From the very first day that Dane Belton joined the Iowa Hawkeyes, he made an instant impact with his defensive play in the secondary.
It appears he may be doing the same with equal impact in the NFL. After being drafted by the New York Giants, Belton may be pushing for a starting job right out of the gates.
While at Iowa, defensive coordinator Phil Parker found a home for Belton as the “CASH,” which can be described as a hybrid position of safety and outside linebacker in layman’s terms.
He certainly proved he can play the safety position as he led the Hawkeyes with five interceptions during the 2021-22 season. As the leader in the secondary, Belton helped propel the entire defense to 25 interceptions, which led the country.
When Iowa ran into teams with a run-heavy offense, Belton was often rolling down into the box and filling the run alleys to provide support in the run game. This versatility is what makes his skillset so unique and intriguing to NFL staffs. The modern-day NFL requires players to be able to contribute in multiple ways and that may just be how Belton gets onto the field as a rookie starter.
The Giants have a decimated secondary after losing a handful of last season’s starters in the offseason. Belton’s versatility to play as a true safety, help in run support, line up against slot receivers, and even run with tight ends checks a lot of boxes for a defense looking to rebuild with youth.
Another advantage Belton has is that the Giants brought in Wink Martindale as their defensive coordinator. Rather than going to a system where the coordinator has spent time with guys, everyone is starting from the same spot.
Whether it be a starter or situational player that comes in for specific packages, the one thing that will hold true is Dane Belton getting considerable playing time next year in the NFL. Not only will he get the playing time, he will make the most of it as well.
Athlon Sports ranks Iowa Hawkeyes No. 32 nationally entering 2022
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