The New York Giants are gearing up for a tough competition for the strong safety position, with Dane Belton, the second-year defensive back, and Bobby McCain, the veteran, among the potential contenders.
Dane Belton: Eyeing Significant Development with the Giants
Belton, a draft pick of Joe Schoen and Brian Daboll, is poised for a substantial developmental leap despite certain struggles during his rookie season.
The 22-year-old showcased his abilities over 400 total snaps, which comprised 123 in run defense and 247 in coverage. Belton recorded five total pressures from the safety position, which included a pass breakup, 202 yards allowed, and two interceptions. Alongside these stats, he also racked up 31 combined tackles with a missed tackle rate of 8.8%.
His rookie season performance was hampered by a lingering clavicle injury, which caused discomfort throughout the year. However, he’s now fully recovered and primed to rebound impressively.
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Position Battle: Belton’s Determination to Earn His Spot
Despite the looming competition, Belton is driven to secure a starting job by proving his worth, rather than simply being handed one. The coaching staff’s preference for position battles and promoting players to give their best aligns perfectly with what Dane needs to outperform McCain, a noted coverage safety.
“That’s definitely my goal to come out and earn that spot,” Belton said on the One Giant Step podcast. “We have a lot of guys that can play really well; a lot of guys that understand the defense and can make plays.”
The Advantage of Recent Draft Selection
As a second-year player, Belton has the advantage of being a recent draft selection who showed prowess at a collegiate level in zone coverage. Standing at 6’1″ and weighing 205 pounds, the former Iowa player has all the essential attributes to excel as a strong safety. His primary requirement is gaining more experience.
“My mindset is always to be the best out there regardless of who’s out there,” he said. “Once I’m fully healthy and coming back in training camp, that’s going to be my goal to earn that spot and to make plays for this defense.”