The New York Giants could be starting a fourth-round draft pick at tight end in 2022. Daniel Bellinger was the 112th overall pick in this year’s draft. It is unusual to see mid-round draft picks enter their rookie seasons as starters, but that could be the case for Daniel Bellinger. Do not sleep on Bellinger, as he could be a surprisingly productive player in his rookie season.
The New York Giants overhauled their tight end position this offseason. 2021’s starting tight end Evan Engram walked in free agency. His backups, Kyle Rudolph and Kaden Smith, were both released. To supplement these losses, the Giants signed veteran tight ends Ricky Seals-Jones and Jordan Atkins and drafted Daniel Bellinger in the fourth round. Many might expect a veteran to win this starting job. But there are many reasons to believe in Daniel Bellinger this season.
What Daniel Bellinger is bringing to the New York Giants
In 43 games with 32 starts at San Diego State, Daniel Bellinger totaled 68 receptions for 771 yards (11.3-yard avg.) and five touchdowns, with a long catch of 73 yards. As a senior in 2021, Bellinger started all 13 games and posted career-high totals of 31 catches and 357 yards with two touchdowns as the team’s captain.
These stats might not jump off the page. However, Bellinger jumps off the screen when you watch him play. His film at San Diego State is mightily impressive. It is not hard to see why Joe Schoen and Brian Daboll prioritized this prospect in the middle rounds. Daniel Bellinger is an athletic tight end with a well-rounded skillset. He is 6-foot-6, 225 pounds, and moves quickly with the ball in his hands. He also has the ability to go up and high-point the ball in tight coverage. Bellinger has vice-grip hands and rarely drops a pass. He had 0 dropped passes in the 2021 season to go along with a 4.2% drop rate for his entire collegiate career.
Daniel Bellinger is bringing athleticism and reliability to the Giants’ offense. Bellinger averaged 14.5 yards after the catch per reception, which ranked first of the prospects in the 2022 NFL Draft class (PFF). He was often used on screen passes and short route concepts designed to give him the ability to make plays after the catch during his collegiate career. This should make Daniel a perfect fit in the Giants’ new offensive scheme. Over in Kansas City, Mike Kafka (Giants’ new offensive coordinator) and the Chiefs turned Travis Kelce into one of the NFL’s best tight ends using him in a similar fashion to the way San Diego State used Daniel Bellinger.
Daniel Bellinger working hard this offseason
Daniel Bellinger recently signed his rookie contract with the New York Giants. This signing comes late in the summer. However, the reason for the late signing could be Bellinger’s busy offseason. The rookie has been grinding hard, attending Tight End University to sharpen his skills. Bellinger attended the tight end school hosted by Kansas City Chiefs star Travis Kelce, San Francisco 49ers tight end, George Kittle, and former Pro Bowler Greg Olsen.
Travis Kelce and Daniel Bellinger now share a coaching connection in Giants OC Mike Kafka. During his time with the Kansas City Chiefs, Kafka served as the team’s quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator. He helped scheme up successful plays for Kelce and will attempt to do the same for Bellinger and the rest of the Giants’ tight ends in 2022 and beyond.
The New York Giants seem to have found a diamond in the rough. Joe Schoen struck gold on a mid-round tight end once before with the Buffalo Bills. Dawson Knox has blossomed into a stud after being drafted in the third round in 2019. Daniel Bellinger could potentially have a similar career trajectory as the tight end of the New York Giants.