Dane Belton, Iowa football's interception leader, selected by New York Giants in fourth round of NFL Draft
Now more than ever NFL teams are seeking versatility on defense. It's especially true for defensive backs who need to be able to play in pass coverage, help stop the run and contribute on special teams. Iowa junior defensive back Dane Belton possesses all of those qualities.
That's why Belton was selected in the fourth round by the New York Giants on Saturday. The 6-foot-2, 205 pound safety was a key piece in an Iowa secondary that reeled in a school record 25 interceptions in 2021. Belton earned first-team All-Big Ten honors and finished last season as only seven Power 5 defenders with at least five interceptions.
A three-year contributor at Iowa, Belton played the "cash" position, a hybrid safety/linebacker role that's fairly new to Iowa's scheme. His predecessor at cash is Tennessee Titans safety Amani Hooker, a 2019 fourth round pick. Belton said throughout the draft process teams compared him to Hooker and it allowed for them to get an idea of what he could contribute to their team. With the 114th overall pick, the Giants secured his services.
The cash position can hold several different names in a defensive scheme and is growing in usage on the college and professional level. It adds an extra defensive back onto the field to help against the pass without sacrificing size and physicality against the run. Belton wasn't drafted just because of his production but because he specializes in a position that teams are starting to prioritize. That was a consistent message that Belton heard throughout the draft process.
"Every team I've talked to really loves how I can play multiple positions," Belton said in an interview with the Register this week. "Being able to play that nickel position, a lot of teams have talked about that's almost their base package especially with the tight ends in the league now. Being able to do multiple things really intrigues teams and hopefully leads to success for me."