Dane Belton
Syndication: HawkCentral

All eyes will be on the Giants‘ early-round draft picks this fall. The team and its fanbase have high expectations for first-rounders Evan Neal and Kayvon Thibodeaux, as well as second-rounder Wan’Dale Robinson.

But there are a number of players who general manager Joe Schoen chose on the third day of the draft (Rounds 4-7) who could make immediate impacts. This is especially the case when you realize the true lack of depth at multiple roster spots.

S Dane Belton (Round 4, Iowa)

The Giants didn’t invest many resources into their secondary this offseason, partly due to their disastrous cap situation. They even needed to release James Bradberry, their top cornerback from the last two seasons, to clear enough cap space to sign draft picks. The Giants additionally parted ways with safety Logan Ryan before the veteran ended up with the Buccaneers.

The lack of defensive backfield depth could clear the way for rookie safety Dane Belton to assume a critical role in Wink Martindale’s defense.

While Xavier McKinney will start at one of the safety spots following a strong 2021 season (93 combined tackles, five interceptions), multiple guys could be up for the other safety role. Julian Love is the early favorite for the job but the fourth-year player has never had a consistent role with Big Blue. Jarren Williams is another option, but the 24-year-old has appeared in just eight NFL games since going undrafted in 2020. Because of all this, Belton may need to produce in some big spots.

LB Micah McFadden (Round 5, Indiana)

The Giants have about six inside linebackers who will push for playing time — Blake Martinez, Tae Crowder, Micah McFadden, Darrian Beavers, Cam Brown, and Carter Coughlin.

But there are concerns at the top of the depth chart, where Martinez and Crowder are expected to reside. The former is coming off an ACL tear that caused him to miss 14 games last year. The latter, on the other hand, hasn’t proven to be an every-down, NFL-caliber starting linebacker.

Brown and Coughlin are mainly special teamers while Beavers might be a preseason cut who lands on the practice squad.

Thus, McFadden may need to fill a larger role than originally expected.

If the Giants wish to get the most out of a pass rush that includes Leonard Williams, Azeez Ojulari, and Thibodeaux, they’ll need to stop the run and force opposing offenses into 3rd-and-long situations. McFadden could assist in that department — he recorded 77 total tackles during his senior season at Indiana last year.

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Ryan Honey is a staff writer and host of the Wide Right Podcast.