3 NY Giants veterans who could lose their roster spots to rookies
By Reese Nasser
1. Safety Julian Love
Julian Love is just 24 years old, but he is already entering Year 4 in the NFL. He is also heading into the final year of his contract. He has played 48 games in his career and started 16 of them. During this time, he has recorded 167 total tackles, three interceptions and seven tackles for loss.
Love’s 2021 season looked similar to what he had done in his previous two years. He played well at times, but often struggled with consistency. He finished the year with 66 total tackles, one interception and five pass breakups. He recorded an overall PFF grade of 55.4. He was targeted 45 times, allowing 33 receptions, 352 yards and three touchdowns.
Given that Love hasn’t made huge strides towards being a top safety, the Giants could elect to use one of their rookies early on to brace for a potential departure this offseason.
Potential Replacement: Dane Belton
Much like how Love was a fourth-round pick, his replacement could be one as well. The Giants added Iowa safety Dane Belton in this year’s draft. Belton played a large role in the Iowa defense during his three collegiate seasons. Each year, his playing time increased and he only got better.
Over his three seasons at Iowa, he played in 30 games. He recorded 112 total tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, five interceptions, and 10 defended passes. He was targeted 112 times and allowed 68 receptions for 644 yards and five touchdowns.
Belton’s 2021 season was the best of his career. He played 806 defensive snaps, which was his career-high at Iowa. He was efficient in all areas of the defense. His coverage improved greatly from 2020 to 2021. He saw a grade change of 65.2 in 2020 to 87.5 in 2021, according to PFF.
Belton is a physical safety who has the potential to develop into an every-down player alongside Xaver McKinney. While the Giants may look to Love early on in the campaign, there’s no reason to think that Belton won’t get his fair share of reps on this relatively young defense.