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New regime lays foundation with '22 draft class

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Giants' three-day draft was marked by uncommon quantity, which they hope will develop into excellent quality.

The six players acquired Saturday give the Giants an 11-man draft class, their largest since they selected 11 players in 2003. Last year, the Giants drafted just six players. The haul this year included three offensive linemen, two linebackers, two defensive backs, an edge rusher, wide receiver, tight end and defensive tackle.

"I think we added competition and depth," general manager Joe Schoen said. "Hopefully as many of these guys turn into starters as we can, but again we are not going to hand anybody anything. We want them to come in, compete, work hard and, again, we want to see progress. I've said that since day one and I think this will lead us to that."

"Eleven picks, 11 players," coach Brian Daboll said. "We'll throw them out there with the rest of the guys when they get here and let them compete it out."

Schoen was particularly pleased that most of the draftees can play numerous positions.

"Guys that have versatility … not every guy is going to come as a starter," Schoen said. "It takes time. Guys have to develop. Just develop and good coaching. Over time, you have to have depth players and frontline players. I think the idea was to get the best we could. Defensively, the guys with versatility. And offensively, as you're around Brian, you'll see, he'll take the pieces and whatever we have and develop the offense or scheme around those pieces that we have, and Wink (Martindale, the defensive coordinator) kind of adheres to the same philosophy."

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

The Giants' Day Three acquisitions included tight end Daniel Bellinger of San Diego State and safety Dane Belton of Iowa in the fourth round, linebacker Micah McFadden of Indiana, defensive tackle D.J. Davidson of Arizona State and guard Marcus McKethan of North Carolina in the fifth round, and linebacker Darrian Beavers of Cincinnati in the sixth round.

They join the five players selected on Thursday and Friday.

That group included edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux from Oregon, chosen fifth overall, and tackle Evan Neal of Alabama, taken seventh.

After trading down twice in the second round, the Giants selected wide receiver Wan'Dale Robinson of Kentucky No. 43 overall. Their two third-round selections were offensive lineman Joshua Ezeudu of North Carolina at No. 67 and defensive back Cor'Dale Flott of LSU at No. 81.

"After Wan'Dale being undersized (he's listed at 5-8 or 5-11, depending on who's doing the listing) and Flott (a 170-punder), I figured I better go big guys today," Schoen said. "You take that into account, but when you look at guys with developmental upside, when they have height, speed and character, the history of those guys developing is a little bit higher than others. Definitely when you get into day three, you do take that into account. It is important, I think."

So is improving the offensive line. The Giants signed five veteran free agent linemen and have now added three draft choices. Plus, Nick Gates and Matt Peart are working their way back from injuries.

Do the Giants now have a line that will help Daboll accomplish his offensive goals?

"We'll see once we get pads on," he said. "I know the guys are hard working. They are smart. They show some toughness when you watch them on tape. The people that we've had in the building are dependable. It's been good to go into meetings with Bobby (Johnson, the offensive line coach) and Tony (Sparano, Jr., his assistant) and those guys. They are eager.

"Let's not make it more than it is. Your job is to protect the inside part of the pocket and the width of the pocket and get moving in the running game, but at that position you need five guys operating as one unit. And that is what will be really important. … I know I will get a lot of questions on it once we get out in OTAs, and I'll tell you right now, there are going to be a lot of guys out there mixing and matching. You can write the lineup down each day, but it's going to change day to day."

A look at the six players the Giants selected on the third and final day of the NFL Draft:

Daniel Bellinger, Tight End, San Diego State, 6-6, 255, Fourth Round, No. 112 overall (choice obtained in a 2021 draft day trade with Chicago)

Bellinger played in 43 games with 32 starts for the Aztecs. His career totals included 68 receptions for 771 yards (11.3-yard avg.) and five touchdowns, with a long catch of 73 yards. As a senior in 2021, he was named a team captain, started all 13 games and compiled career-high totals of 31 catches and 357 yards, including the 73-yarder, while scoring twice. Bellinger was a three-time Mountain West Conference All-Academic selection.

What is the strength of Bellinger's game?

"I would say blocking, blocking and being versatile in both the passing game and blocking game," he said. "I think I can do a good job blocking and I can stretch the field and make plays when I need to."

Dane Belton, Safety, Iowa, 6-1, 190, Fourth Round, No. 114 overall (choice obtained in a trade Friday with Atlanta)

In three seasons at Iowa, Belton played in 30 games with 26 starts. He tallied 112 tackles (68 solo), 6.5 tackles for loss, 17 passes defensed and five interceptions. Belton got all five of his picks in 2021 when he was selected first-team All-Big Ten and posted career-high totals of 46 tackles, including 29 solo. He had a season-high five tackles vs. both Penn State and Purdue, and two interceptions at Northwestern.

"First off, they are getting a competitor, a guy who loves the game who is going to come in ready to work and does whatever it takes," Belton said. "Two, a guy who loves to study the game and try to continue to improve myself. I feel like I pride myself on creating takeaways and understanding how offenses attack and just trying to get in the passing lanes and doing what the defense needs to do. So just a person coming in ready to work."

Micah McFadden, Linebacker, Indiana, 6-2, 232, Fifth Round, No. 146 overall (choice obtained Friday in a trade with the Jets)

McFadden played in 45 games with 31 starts for the Hoosiers. In his last three seasons, he was selected, in order, honorable mention, first-team and second-team All-Big Ten. McFadden's career totals include 216 (149 solo) tackles, 37 tackles for loss, 14.0 sacks, four interceptions, eight passes defensed and three forced fumbles. He led Indiana in tackles in each of his last three seasons. In his final year, McFadden had career-best totals of 77 stops, 49 solo, 15.5 stops for loss and 6.5 sacks.

"My game is physical," McFadden said. "I think I can get after the quarterback, but I think I'm great dropping back in pass coverage and just getting a hat on guys and being a dominant force in the middle."

McFadden is excited to join Martindale's pressure-heavy defense.

"I can't wait," he said. "Really excited to be part of the team. Honored that this organization drafted me. I just can't wait to get to work and perform."

D.J. Davidson, Defensive Tackle, Arizona State, 6-5, 325, Fifth Round, No. 147 overall

Davidson played in 37 games with 28 starts in four seasons for the Sun Devils. He recorded 137 tackles (62 solo), 16.0 tackles for loss, 5.0 sacks and one fumble recovery. As a senior in 2021, he was selected second-team All-Pac 12 after finishing with career-high figures of 57 tackles (21 solo) and 6.4 stops for loss.

Davidson said he can be a versatile player on the Giants' defensive front.

"I would say primarily nose tackle but also at the 3-technique (tackle) as well," he said. "I expect myself to pick up on things very quickly and make sure I continue to stay in shape and continue to do the right things that I have been doing to get to this point."

Marcus McKethan, Guard, North Carolina, 6-6, 335, Fifth Round, No. 173 overall (choice obtained in a trade with Baltimore on Aug. 31, 2021)

In four seasons, McKethan played in 43 games, including 37 starts at right guard in his last 38 games and all 25 games in 2020-21. He was selected honorable mention All-ACC in each of his final two seasons. McKethan joins Joshua Ezeudu as the second North Carolina offensive lineman the Giants selected in this draft, and he is excited to reunite with his college teammate.

"Oh, this is a great feeling, playing next to somebody for three years, just getting to go to the same NFL team," McKethan said. "It's really just like a dream."

Darrian Beavers, Linebacker, Cincinnati, 6-5, 255, Sixth Round, No. 182 overall

Beavers played two seasons at the University of Connecticut before transferring to play three years for his hometown Bearcats. He played in 62 games with 41 starts and started each of the 34 games in which he played for Cincinnati. Beavers' career totals included 233 tackles (130 solo), 28 stops for loss, 14.0 sacks, six passes defensed, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. In 2018, Beavers led UConn with 4.0 sacks. Two years later, he was named second-team All-AAC. In 2021, Beavers started all 14 games for a Bearcats team that participated in the College Football Playoffs. He was named first-team All-AAC after finishing with career highs of 101 tackles (47 solo) and 11.2 tackles for loss.

At UConn, Beavers was primarily an outside linebacker. He played mostly inside at Cincinnati.

"I'm very versatile when it comes to stuff like that," Beavers said. "I think it was the best fit for me. The coaches thought that was the best fit for me, so I switched positions and it worked out for me. So, I feel like just me being versatile, me being able to switch positions and still succeed is something I bring to the table.

"I can be very successful in any defense and any position out there, you put me in a 3-4, outside or inside, I'll be very successful. If you put me in a 4-3 inside backer, I'd be fine with that, too."

View photos of the Giants' draft picks as they tour their new home.

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