It’s officially day two of the NFL Draft!
After seeing Tyler Linderbaum come off the board last with the 25th overall pick to the Baltimore Ravens, it’s safe to say the university of Iowa’s reputation as being as an offensive line factory for the NFL suffered no setbacks. That said, day two presents a less optimistic picture for your favorite former Hawkeyes, as former safety/hybrid linebacker, Dane Belton, serves as the Hawkeyes only realistic chance to come off the board in rounds two and three.
That said, there’s a good reason why Belton finds himself in that position. For starters, Belton’s on-field production, aggressiveness, role versatility and playmaking ability shine through in this class, which says a lot considering how loaded this class is defensively.
Despite Belton’s on-field production and playmaking tendencies, there are some knocks you can find with Belton’s game. What has mainly stood out in the draft evaluation process has been Belton’s poor performance in agility and flexibility drills at the combine, as Belton tested in the 50 percentile or below in both the 3-cone drill and 20-yard short shuttle. Pair those two underwhelming testing numbers with Belton’s smaller, compact frame and NFL decision makers are left wondering whether or not Belton’s last-second pass breakups, mirroring skills and usage as a blitzer are translatable to the next level.
It’s a fair concern, as the safety position is one of the hardest and most tasking positions at the NFL level. In defense of Belton, many people have drawn comparisons to former Hawkeye standout Amani Hooker who is experiencing much success with the Tennessee Titans despite falling to day three of the 2019 NFL Draft. This isn’t an appropriate comparison however, as Hooker tested in the 80 percentile of both the 3-cone drill and 20-yard short shuttle while testing in the exact same percentile as Belton in regards to explosiveness.
Sure, Belton’s game might be a bit of a mixed bag, as far as translating to the NFL is concerned. That said, there’s a place for him in the league whether that’s as a core special teamer or as a hybrid linebacker or safety. Is he worth a selection on day two? Ultimately, that’s for an NFL franchise to decide. However, what we do know about Belton is that his aggressiveness, confidence, physicality and play speed are going to allow him to overcome many obstacles if he chooses to stick with it and that accounts for much more than just a little something.