The New York Giants select Dane Belton - a hybrid SAF/LB - with their second pick in the fourth round of the 2022 NFL Draft. Belton was used all over Iowa’s defense; he was involved in their blitzing package, underneath zone, played the deep half, and was aligned in the box. However, he was primarily used as the Hawkeyes’ slot defender.
In his entire three-year college career, Belton aligned 1,244 times in the slot, 439 times in the box, and only 120 times at free safety. He played the STAR position which Iowa calls the “CASH” spot. Iowa’s defense led the FBS with interceptions last season; Belton had five, with eight passes defended. The Iowa defense does an excellent job recognizing and reacting to quick game concepts while using pattern match principles with some of their zone looks.
Belton recorded 46 tackles, three for a loss, five pressures, five interceptions, and eight passes defended in 2021. He finished his college career with 112 tackles, 6.5 for a loss, a sack, five interceptions, 10 passes defended, a forced fumble, and 13 pressures. Belton also had a missed tackle rate of 16.7 percent throughout his college career.
Dane Belton is a SS prospect in the 2022 draft class. He scored an unofficial 9.07 RAS at the Combine out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 72 out of 765 SS from 1987 to 2022. https://t.co/ioGgs0D5Wi #RAS via @Mathbomb pic.twitter.com/WBfc88PMEr— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) March 7, 2022
Belton is a good athlete with solid size who can be effective wearing many hats. Belton joins a safety room that consists of budding star Xavier McKinney, Swiss-Army knife Julian Love - who only has one year left on his deal - and reported UDFA signing out of Kentucky Yusuf Corker, who is more of a physical presence than an overall coverage player.
Safety was a position of need, and Belton could find his way to the field quickly.
General manager Joe Schoen did multiple Zoom calls with Belton, and the former Hawkeyes’ final top-30 visit was with the Giants. His diverse skill-set can be leveraged by Wink Martindale. Let’s look at his film to see how.