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Cover 3: Potential sleeper pick in 2022 draft class

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With rookie minicamp set to open this week, the crew looks at potential sleepers in the 2022 class. First, a refresher on the Giants' 11-man draft class:

Dan Salomone: Daniel Bellinger already has a leg up on George Kittle, whom he models his game after. Bellinger was the 112th overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, 34 spots ahead of where Kittle went in 2017. Of course, the three-time Pro Bowler and All-Pro is the best-case scenario for a Day 3 pick, but the larger point is the tight end position is prime for sleepers. The top six tight ends in receptions last year had an average draft position of 84.8, a group that includes no first-rounders.

But that's putting the cart way in front of the horse. The sure-handed tight end joins a new-look position group, which saw the departures of Evan Engram, Kyle Rudolph, and Kaden Smith this off-season. He'll have plenty of opportunities to show what he can do and potentially be a sleeper in the class.

"I would say we have a variety of [tight ends] right now on the roster, some bigger-type receivers, some a little bit more blockers," coach Brian Daboll said. "Running around with shorts on, it's good to see their movement skills and how they can track a ball. But once we get to training camp OTAs when they have to do things a little more quickly, we'll figure that out."

Lance Medow: There were a few intriguing Day 3 picks, including fifth-rounder Micah McFadden and Darrian Beavers in the sixth. McFadden led Indiana in tackles and tackles for loss each of his last three seasons with the Hoosiers and collected 12.5 sacks over the past two campaigns combined; Beavers played linebacker, safety and defensive end at UConn and Cincinnati. Both players make strong cases based on their resumes but at the top of this list is fourth-round pick Dane Belton, who was a three-year starter at Iowa.

Belton assumed a hybrid role within the Hawkeyes' defense as he played both safety and outside linebacker. Not only did he showcase his versatility, but was also opportunistic as he collected five interceptions in 2021. When you take into consideration how much Wink Martindale loves to blitz and move players around, Belton has the potential to be a good fit because of how he was utilized in college. His ability to play near and far from the line of scrimmage is experience Martindale can tap into depending on the opponent. And considering the Giants parted ways with Jabrill Peppers and Logan Ryan this off-season, there's potential for a rookie safety to contribute immediately.

Matt Citak: Micah McFadden is in a prime position to end up being one of the bigger steals from Day 3 of the draft. 

The linebacker enjoyed a strong career at Indiana. McFadden played in 33 games over his final three seasons with the Hoosiers, racking up a total of 14 sacks, 35 tackles for loss and four interceptions. In 12 games last season, he registered highs of 6.5 sacks, 15.5 tackles for loss and three pass breakups to go with 77 total tackles. His performance earned him a 92.0 pass rush grade from Pro Football Focus, the highest among off-ball linebackers in the nation, and a selection as Second-Team All-Big Ten.

McFadden's success as a pass rusher actually dates to the 2019 campaign. Over the past three seasons, no Power Five off-ball linebacker earned a higher pass rush grade, while his 25.6 percent win rate and 74 pressures also led the position. McFadden also saw his pass rush grade increase each season over the the same span.

It is no secret that Don "Wink" Martindale's defense revolves around being aggressive with blitzes coming from all over the field – and this lines up perfectly with McFadden's strengths. The young linebacker was the best defender for the last two years on a team that plays a blitz-heavy defense. Going from that to Martindale's blitz happy defense should not be that big of an adjustment, especially for a player who showed that he can win his matchup in numerous ways. Add in the fact that the Giants don't have a ton of depth at middle linebacker, and all signs point towards McFadden having a big impact on the Giants, starting in 2022.

View photos from the college careers of the Giants' entire 11-player draft class


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