NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Mississippi State CB Johnthan Banks
|04.19.13 at 7:10 am ET|
WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that might be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2013 NFL draft. Here is one in a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’s time for the Patriots to make a selection.
School: Mississippi State
Weight: 185 pounds
Achievements: 2012 Jim Thorpe Award (best defensive back), 2011 All-SEC second team (cornerback), 2009 All-SEC freshman team (safety)
What he brings: Entering the draft following a highly successful four-year tenure with the Bulldogs, Banks is a great press coverage corner who also boasts a strong skill set when it comes to stopping interior passing games. When it comes to blanketing a receiver within 10-15 yards of the line of scrimmage, Banks matches up with anyone else in the draft class. Beyond that, though, there are some blemishes.
The first thing that is apparent with Banks is his height and ball skills. With his frame, Banks could easily slide in at safety. In fact, he was recruited at the position and played there as a freshman with the Bulldogs. However, since switching to cornerback, he has shown great quickness when covering short-yardage routes, particularly when talking about a player his size. Additionally, Banks tallied a school-record 16 interceptions during his time at Mississippi State.
However, when it comes to the vertical passing game, Banks comes up a bit short. Unlike a lot of taller cornerbacks, such as FSU’s Xavier Rhodes, Banks is quick, not fast. This comes into play when he has to stick with a receiver in man coverage. At the combine, Banks ran a disappointing 4.58 seconds in the 40-yard dash. At his pro day, though, he recorded an improved time of 4.51-4.55. As with any player, the 40 does not write one’s NFL success in stone. However, it does nothing to help dispel pre-existing concerns over his inability to keep up receivers downfield. Although, when he is there, Banks plays the ball well, using his height and leaping ability against receivers to make a play on the pass.
The final issue with Banks is a odd one for a big cornerback: his ability to take down ball-carriers. Banks, who was often used with great effect as a blitzer, does a good job punishing players when coming straight down on them. However, Banks has a tendency to overpursue and get caught up in traffic against the run, and can let a runner go if they put a move on him.
Where the Patriots could get him: Round 1 or 2
Notes: When it comes to cornerbacks who can provide press coverage, particularly in a Tampa 2 scheme, Banks presents a great value. Although, teams that want him to have a presence near the line of scrimmage will need him to bulk up and improve his tackling game.
In most cases, tall corners are tasked with lining up on the outside and using their press skills to their fullest extent. Banks, though, has exceptional versatility along the defensive backfield. In addition to his experience at safety, Banks’ ability to stick with receivers on short, quick routes makes him ideal for teams looking for a player to slide into the slot in nickel and dime formations. Should he end up adding to his frame and developing his skills in run support, Banks could become a dangerous defender in the box.
While it’s strange to see a receiver at 6-foot-2 (a la Dez Bryant) back receiving punts, it’s even more odd to see a defensive back doing so. Yet that’s exactly what Banks did in college as the team’s leading punt returner his senior year, averaging 10.5 yards per attempt.
Related articles: The Shutdown 50: Mississippi State DB Johnthan Banks
Video: Here’s a playlist of some of Banks’ performances against SEC competition, starting with a 2012 matchup against Tennessee and the Volunteers’ vaunted wide receivers: