How rookie Dane Belton can shine on the New York Giants’ defense

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The New York Giants‘ secondary was rebuilt this offseason. The team parted ways with multiple starters, including cornerback James Bradberry and safeties Logan Ryan and Jabrill Peppers. New York made it a point to acquire additional talent through the draft to supplement these losses. Fourth-round pick Dane Belton was one of those selections that will supplement the loss and have an impact in the secondary.

Dane Belton could shine on the New York Giants’ defense as a rookie. He is a versatile defensive back with the ability to line up in multiple positions. The 114th overall pick in this year’s draft could even compete for a starting job this summer. The real impact that Belton could make, though, is as an additional safety in nickel packages.

How Dane Belton can shine on the Giants’ defense

Dane Belton played the unique position of a “cash” defensive back in Iowa’s defense. A “cash” or “star” is defined as a safety/linebacker hybrid. He started eight games in that position as a sophomore in 2020. In 2021, Belton split time at “cash” and at strong safety, starting 14 games on the season. The New York Giants could have Dane Belton play a similar role as a rookie.

Belton’s versatility makes him a valuable young player. The Giants are reshaping their defense and could be moving some players around. Xavier McKinney is prepared to man the free safety position as he gears up for his third season. But at strong safety, a competition is brewing between Julian Love and Dane Belton.

Dane Belton could potentially steal the starting strong safety position. However, where Belton could really shine is as a hybrid linebacker in nickel packages. The Giants should utilize Belton’s experience playing as a “cash” defender in college. The rookie’s versatility could allow him to have an impact similar to the one Julian Love had in his first three seasons.

Julian Love was drafted by the Giants in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Love is likely to start at strong safety this season after moving around the defense over the past three years. In three seasons, Love has started games at four different positions: strong safety, free safety, outside cornerback, and slot cornerback. Julian Love’s versatility made him valuable and kept him on the football field. Dane Belton’s similar level of versatility could be utilized the same way in 2022.

Making plays is what Dane Belton was all about during his collegiate career. He totaled 5 interceptions and 7 passes defended in 2021. Defensive coordinator Wink Martindale will line up Dane Belton all across the defense, giving him opportunities to make plays from any position.

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