The New York Giants are hoping for all of their 11-member draft class to make the roster and become meaningful contributors on Day 1.
Some, however, will contribute more than others, specifically edge Kayvon Thibodeaux and offensive tackle Evan Neal, both first-round picks who are assured of being Day 1 contributors.
However, forecasting the contribution levels of Day 3 picks, however,r can be tricker. Whereas Pro Football Focus named one of the Giants' fifth-round draft pick as its Day 3 choice to contribute immediately to the team, The 33rd Team has another, more practical candidate it believes can make an impact.
That would be fourth-round pick Daniel Bellinger, a tight end chosen out of San Diego State. Nolan Murt, projecting which mid-round picks will contribute in Year 1, predicts Bellinger could emerge as a starter in a group that includes veteran Ricky Seals-Jones and Jordan Akins and undrafted free agent Austin Allen.
Here's what Murt had to say about Bellinger.
The 4th-round pick out of San Diego State may be the most skilled blocker of the bunch from the get-go as he owns a good blend of size, strength, and physicality to factor in the run game. Perhaps the more exciting aspect of his game is his untapped potential as a receiver. Despite his limited passing-game usage in the Aztecs’ run-heavy offense, Bellinger made the most of his targets, rarely dropping passes and averaging over 11 yards per reception in his college career. As indicated by his top-tier testing performance at the NFL Combine, he has the athletic ability to expand his route tree while utilizing his excellent hands to be of service as a security blanket for Daniel Jones.
There's a lot to like about Bellinger, who, if he can stay on the same path in the NFL, could end up being a more productive prospect than former Giants starting tight end Evan Engram who was a first-round pick in 2017.
According to Pro Football Focus, the very chiseled Bellinger had ZERO drops last season and posted just three drops in 103 pass targets, which is pretty good considering that Engram alone had four of the six dropped balls by the Giants' tight ends in 2021.
Daniel Bellinger (88) carries the ball against the Boise State Broncos in the second half at Dignity Health Sports Park.
Daniel Bellinger (88) avoids a tackle by UTSA Roadrunners linebacker Tyler Mahnke (38) during the 20
Daniel Bellinger practices a drill during rookie camp at Quest Diagnostics Training Center.
Want another reason to be excited about Bellinger? He has a career average of 5.9 yards after the catch, which is better than Engram's career 5.4 YAC average--and both tight ends, by the way, share the same average depth of target (7.1 yards) for their respective tenures.
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Whereas Engram created coverage mismatches against smaller players, Bellinger isn't quite in that category. But Bellinger more than makes up for it not just with his sticky hands (he is equally good against zone and man coverage) but on contested catches, where his 42.9 percent success rate puts Engram's 34.4 career success rate to shame.
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Lest anyone think the Giants got a first-round talent in the fourth round, Bellinger didn’t play up to his timed speed. He isn’t a “lumbering” tight end, but he wasn’t particularly twitchy or dynamic on tape. But there's certainly enough to work with if the Giants want to involve him in the passing game.
Let's talk a bit about the blocking aspect. Whereas Engram was a willing but not very effective in-line blocker, Bellinger, who at 253 pounds is about 15 pounds heavier than Engram, finished with the third-highest run-blocking grade for San Diego State last season.
The Las Vegas, Nevada native and All-Mountain West Conference award winner has the ideal build (6-foot-5, 253 pounds) and athletic ability to get the job done. Like all rookies, his technique needs refinement to ensure his success inman and zone blocking schemes.
Bellinger, who posted the second-best composite athletic score among the 2022 tight end class, is still a work in progress who projects as a classic “Y” tight end capable of emerging as a starter before the 2022 campaign ends.
For the Giants, having a “complete” tight end capable of run blocking, pass protecting, and catching the ball will be a big help for 11-personnel packages for a team that hasn't gotten the best return on investment out of the position for several years now.