The apparent centerpiece of the New York Giants’ makeover of the tight end position is a 21-year-old rookie who was barely on the radar leading up to the 2022 NFL Draft. Let’s talk about San Diego State’s Daniel Bellinger, the Giants selection at No. 112 in Round 4, as we continue profiling the 90-man roster the team will bring to training camp.
By the numbers
Position: Tight end
Contract: Four years, $4.593 million (when signed) | 2022 cap hit: $705,000
Career to date
Bellinger was a sure-handed ‘Y’ tight end for the Aztecs. Pro Football Focus said Bellinger, who caught 68 passes in 31 career games, was “woefully underutilized” by San Diego State. After watching Evan Engram drop too many balls over five seasons in New York, Giants fans should appreciate Bellinger if he is as reliable in the NFL as he was at San Diego State. In 2021, Bellinger did not drop a single pass, and he had a 4.2 percent drop rate for his collegiate career.
Bellinger told Giants media after the draft that he takes “tremendous pride” in catching what comes his way.
“I’ve been playing the game since I was six years old,” he said. “So just playing catch with my dad and never dropping the ball, because he would get mad at me even as a little kid dropping the ball. So I take a lot of pride in making sure I don’t drop the ball too much.”
Bellinger admitted that at times he felt “a little bit” under-utilized in San Diego State’s offense but that “if I didn’t get enough balls, that’s all right as long as we got the win.”
|*2018||San Diego State||MWC||FR||TE||1||1||10||10.0||0||0||0||0||1||10||10.0||0|
|*2019||San Diego State||MWC||SO||TE||11||15||201||13.4||3||1||-6||-6.0||0||16||195||12.2||3|
|2020||San Diego State||MWC||JR||TE||8||21||203||9.7||0||0||0||0||21||203||9.7||0|
|*2021||San Diego State||MWC||SR||TE||11||31||357||11.5||2||1||2||2.0||0||32||359||11.2||2|
|Career||San Diego State||68||771||11.3||5||2||-4||-2.0||0||70||767||11.0||5|
After losing Engram in free agency and parting ways with Kyle Rudolph and Kaden Smith, the Giants added veteran free agents Ricky Seals-Jones and Jordan Akins. Both are more pass catcher than inline tight end. Seals-Jones is a former wide receiver, while Akins is a one-time baseball player.
Chris Myarick is the lone true blocking tight end currently on the roster, though the Giants are expected to add undrafted free agent tight ends Austin Allen (Nebraska) and Jeremiah Hall (Oklahoma).
Point being, there should be snaps available for Bellinger in his rookie season should he show the coaching staff he is ready for them.
“A tight end needs to pass block, needs to run block, needs to go out and create space and make himself open so he can catch balls and create opportunities for the offense,” Bellinger said on Saturday. “It’s not just critical for the Giants but it’s critical for the game overall.”
In his Rookie Scouting Portfolio draft guide, skill position analyst Matt Waldman said:
The Elevator Pitch for Bellinger: A skilled blocker with the athletic ability for the NFL as a regular contributor, Bellinger has all of the base tools to become a versatile H-Back. He needs to get better with contact at the catch point and work on expanding his route tree. If he can prove useful against man coverage, his game could take another leap. Otherwise, he can deliver as an outlet receiver whose primary roles will be blocking and special teams.
The Giants are hoping, of course, for the former. The latter, though, would not be horrible value for a fourth-round pick.
Bellinger believes his best football is still to come.
“I think I have a lot to show and of course a lot to improve on. So that’s another thing is I want to come out and show that I can be a receiver and not just a blocker but also both,” Bellinger said. “Just be a hybrid and help the offense, whether it is blocking or whether it is pass catching.”