Jerod Mayo understands the versatility both New England Patriots offensive lineman Mike Onwenu and defensive back Kyle Dugger offer.

“I love those guys,” Mayo told reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine on Wednesday, per “I love Big Mike. He has the versatility to play guard or tackle. One of those guys that when he’s going, he’s dominant.

“With Dugger, last year going into the season, there were some questions, ‘Can he communicate?’ And he squashed all that this year. He did a fantastic job in his new role without Devin (McCourty) there.”

But their respective skillsets are just one piece of the puzzle. Dugger, a second-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, and Onwenu, a sixth-round steal the same year, have grown up inside One Patriot Place.

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Mayo and Patriots de facto general manager Eliot Wolf have stressed the importance of building the culture in Foxboro — though Mayo doesn’t want that to be perceived as a slight at Bill Belichick. Dugger and Onwenu, two of New England’s most productive draftees in recent years, could serve as the initial examples of the new regime’s draft-and-develop mantra.

“You definitely want those pieces to stay,” Mayo said. “Going back to what I talked about earlier, you develop through the draft. So, if those guys stay, they’ve been raised here and they can help push the culture forward.”

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The Patriots have the ability to retain either Dugger or Onwenu with the franchise tag. Mayo agreed the franchise tag was an option, but indicated the franchise would try to keep both in New England for the long term.

“That’s always an option. But, at the same time with guys like that, you want those guys to be happy,” Mayo said. “You want them to be here for the long term, so that’s the plan.”

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Mayo’s feelings on Dugger and Onwenu echoed much of Wolf said one day prior.

“We definitely want to keep Mike and Kyle, and we’re hopeful to continue to work with Kyle’s agent and Mike to make that happen,” Wolf said.

The Patriots have until March 5 to use the franchise tag. Free agency begins March 13, two days after the legal tampering window opens.

Featured image via Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports Images