The New York Giants lost a number of key pieces in their secondary this offseason. Three starters in the Giants’ 2021 defensive backfield have moved on to new teams. The Giants have attempted to supplement these losses through the 2022 NFL Draft. New York drafted two defensive backs in this year’s draft, including a potential “gem” in fourth-round pick Dane Belton.
Pro Football Focus recently named Dane Belton the Giants’ “Biggest Draft Gem” from their 2022 class. New York selected the Iowa safety in the fourth round with the 114th overall pick in the draft. Dane Belton is a playmaker that lined up in a variety of positions for Iowa’s defense. New York Giants defensive coordinator will need to move Belton around his defense to maximize the rookie’s skill set and potential.
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What Dane Belton is bringing to the Giants
Dane Belton is also a superior athlete. His relative athletic score (RAS) was an elite 9.41 after an impressive day of athletic testing at the Scouting Combine. Belton ran a 4.43s 40-yard dash with a blazing-fast 1.49s 10-yard split. The versatile defensive back has the straight-line speed to make the break on passes and make plays.
Making plays is what Dane Belton was all about during his collegiate career. He totaled 5 interceptions and 7 passes defended in 2021. Belton was constantly popping up around the football, being a pest to opposing quarterbacks. In the NFL, Dane Belton should see early playing time on special teams. His role defensively, though, would likely be as a nickel safety.
Playing as Iowa’s “cash” defender, Belton thrived as a slot safety, allowing a 66.0 passer rating across 315 coverage snaps. He packs a powerful punch at 6-foot-1 and has shown an ability to thrive in a zone coverage slot role when given the opportunity (89.4 zone coverage grade in 2021). – Pro Football Focus on Dane Belton
Dane Belton’s skill set is similar to that of Giants defensive back Julian Love. Both players have the ability to line up just about anywhere in the secondary. Belton could potentially serve as an upgrade to Love, though. lt will be an interesting summer as training camp should ultimately determine which of the two players sees more playing time in the regular season.