So You've Drafted Dane Belton: A New Fan’s Guide

By RossWB on April 30, 2022 at 7:20 pm
go dane go
© Bryon Houlgrave/The Register via Imagn Content Services, LLC
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Congratulations! Your team has just made the wonderful decision to draft Dane Belton! Like most new Dane BElton fans, you're no doubt filled with questions about your new family member. We here at GIA will try our best to answer any questions you might have.

HELLO NEW YORK GIANTS!

WHAT'S SO SPECIAL ABOUT DANE BELTON? 

Outside of offensive linemen and tight ends, defensive back is probably the position where former Iowa players have had the most success in the NFL since Kirk Ferentz has been in charge at Iowa (a tenure that's entered its third decade). Dane Belton is the latest Iowa defensive back to take his talents to the NFL ranks, following the likes of Bob Sanders, Sean Considine, Tyler Sash, Shaun Prater, Micah Hyde, Desmond King, and (more recently) Amani Hooker and Geno Stone. Iowa's success at producing NFL defensive backs is a testament to the tutelage of Phil Parker, Iowa's defensive coordinator and longtime defensive backs coach. Parker molds defensive backs who are sure tacklers and strong in coverage with good ball skills. That's pretty much Belton. He reads quarterbacks well and has strong instincts that help him make plays on the ball, he takes good angles in zone coverage, and he's physical enough to cover tight ends and slow down running backs. He's also versatile, able to play as a safety, a nickel cornerback, or even an (undersized) outside linebacker. 

WHAT DID HE DO THAT'S SO GREAT?

Belton broke into the Iowa starting lineup as a true freshman -- no easy feat for a defensive back in Iowa's system -- and he never looked back from there, starting 26 games over the past three seasons. Belton is predominantly a defensive back, but he played a hybrid role in Iowa's defense -- the "cash" role, which is part defensive back and part outside linebacker. Players in that role need to be solid tacklers who can contain the run, while also being quick enough and good enough in pass coverage to cover tight ends and slot receivers. It's a demanding role, but it's one that Belton flourished in at Iowa. Belton has decent size -- 6'1", 205 lbs -- and good wheels (clocked at 4.43 in the 40) and he hits like a truck when he gets a chance to tackle someone. Belton was a fixture of Iowa's defense over the past three seasons and a key part of their success on that side of the ball. His coverage skills took a big jump in 2021, as he hauled in five interceptions and had seven pass deflections. That helped earn him All-Big Ten first team honors. 

STATS

YEAR TACKLES TFL INT PASS DEF FOR FUM
2019 33 2.0 0 0 0
2020 33 1.5 0 5 1
2021 46 3.0 5 7 0
TOTAL 112 6.5 5 12 1

HOW ARE HIS PHYSICAL ATTRIBUTES? 

40 YD DASH VERT JUMP BROAD JUMP 3 CONE 20 YD SHUTTLE
4.43 36.5 in 10 ft, 3 in 7.01 4.24

Those figures all rank in the top-seven among safeties who tested at the NFL Scouting Combine. 

HIGHLIGHTS

WHAT ABOUT THE BAD? 

Belton has OK size, but not great size, so bigger tight ends and wide receivers could give him more difficulty. He doesn't excel at the back end of the defense, so deep (or high) safety isn't his best role. While he was generally good at slowing the run, he had some hiccups there as well. 

WAS THIS A GOOD PICK? 

Yes. Belton can step in and immediately provide depth at multiple positions (safety, nickel cornerback) and contribute on special teams. Long-term, he can progress into a potential starter at safety or nickel cornerback for teams that start three cornerbacks regularly. Between somewhat limited action as a true freshman and a COVID-shortened sophomore season in 2020, Belton has only played in around 30 games since high school. He took a big leap between his sophomore and junior seasons and the potential is certainly there for him to make even more progress as he settles into the NFL. The Giants got some good years out of another former Iowa safety -- Tyler Sash -- and Belton could provide the same effectiveness in a few years. 

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