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Giants’ rookie Dane Belton says versatility is his calling card

Belton filled a number of roles for the Iowa defense

NFL Combine
Dane Belton
Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

When the New York Giants drafted Dane Belton in the fourth round of the 2022 NFL Draft, he became only the third safety on the team’s roster.

It’s a good thing Belton, who played collegiately at Iowa, is used to wearing multiple hats.

“In our base defense [at Iowa], I played a 2-high safety but any time the offense came out in 11 personnel, 10 personnel, basically passing formation, I went down to a nickel what we call cash, and really just a versatile player that has to guard slot receivers and play in the box, blitz off the edge, doing multiple things,” Belton said.

In 2021, Pro Football Focus charted Belton playing 536 snaps in the slot, 290 in the box, 57 as a deep safety, 51 as a defensive lineman and 9 at cornerback.

The 6’1, 205-pound Belton even worked with the linebackers as a freshman with the Hawkeyes. Belton didn’t stay at linebacker, but he said at the NFL Scouting Combine that the time spent there did help him.

“My freshman year, once I moved over to the linebacker room for that year with coach (Seth) Wallace and what he did to teach me, a young guy still learning the ropes, but just learning the techniques of using your hands and sometimes using your feet and depending on the situation and understanding the techniques as much as you can and be able to implement that in the game,” he said.

Belton filled so many roles during his time at Iowa that he feels as though it prepared him well for the various sub-packages and requirements of playing defense in the modern NFL.

“I would say I feel like I’m a football player and in that new game of football of position-less players that people talk about, I feel like I’m that,” Belton said at the Combine. “Honestly, I just love to play football. So, wherever I can plug and play and help a team, I’m willing to do that.

“You’re not just getting a safety out of me; you’re not just getting a nickel or a corner or etc.; you’re getting a football player that could go anywhere.”

Belton told media after he was selected that he took a previously unreported 30-visit to the Giants, his only one.

“I really loved it up there and talking to coaches, coaches spoke highly on the new coaching staff coming in,” Belton said. “Coaches that had been here from last year and the previous coaching staff talking how the energy has changed. They just love being around here and the players come ready to work, and I feel like the coaches were energetic and love to coach and love the game. So I feel like it was a good environment overall.”