Every week from here on out during the NFL season, I am going to spotlight one player, typically one who is in a big matchup that week, who could be targeted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2013 NFL Draft. This week we take a peek at a player in the defensive secondary.
Johnthan Banks, CB Mississippi State
What I love-When it comes to a cornerback, we can debate triangle numbers and backpedal and ball skills all we like. But without confidence none of that will matter. You must be able to play with a short memory and the attitude that you will win every play. Banks is that kind of player. Last season Banks came on very strong, showing tremendous athletic ability to pair with his NFL prototype size, but the end of last season, carrying over into this season we see a young man who feels like he’s going to win every one on one. He is great in press man, uses his hands well, and can push wide outs around at the line. He also has excellent vision for the ball and can catch line a wide receiver.
What I don’t love so much-His straight line speed isn’t great, and against smaller, quicker wide outs he could get lost a little. His zone technique needs work, but that can be said for most any college corner. He’s a bit of a tweener with some thinking he’s more cornerback and others thinking he projects better as a safety.
How would he look as a Steeler? Banks size makes him tempting not only as a cornerback opposite veteran Ike Taylor, but I can also see him being that top end free safety that this team has been lacking for so long. Banks is great in run support, does a nice job diagnosing run plays, and is a solid tackler. But his ability to get up in a wide out’s face and make plays on the football puts his draft value as a cornerback much higher. This Steelers team has plenty of nickel and dime corners, but they need a no. 1 in the worst way, and Banks can be that type of player.
I have Banks projected as a mid first round pick, and assuming the rest of the rankings stay fairly static, I don’t see him falling further than 15-20. This if a very good NFL draft class for the cornerback position, and Banks is right among them. Where the Steelers will end up drafting is still very much a mystery, but they have shown in the past they are not afraid of moving up to get their guy, so Banks should be squarely on their radar. The Steeler committed heavily to offensive line in the 2012 NFL Draft, so I expect them to turn their attention toward upgrading the defense in 2013. I will have a full scouting report on Banks at the end of the season, so keep an eye out for that.
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