There’s no two ways about it, the 2023 NFL Draft is incredibly deep at the cornerback position. There will be starting caliber corners going throughout the first two days of the draft, and there are players to fit any scheme or philosophy.
This cornerback class is so deep that players who would be at the top of the depth chart in almost any other year are flying under the radar. For instance, Maryland’s Deonte Banks has gotten relatively little conversation at the national level. However, he has the talent and upside to be a fringe first round player, but the sheer depth of defensive backs in this class could push him down to the bottom of the second round.
Could that make him an exceptional value for the New York Giants?
Prospect: Deonte Banks (3)
Games Watched: vs. West Virginia (2021), vs. SMU (2022), vs. Michigan (2022), vs. Purdue (2022)
Red Flags: Shoulder (2021)
Games Played: 28
Tackles For a loss: 0.5
Passes defensed: 11
Games Played: 12
Tackles For a loss: 0.5
Passes defensed: 8
Best: Athleticism, lower-body fluidity, physicality, football IQ
Worst: Tackling, ball skills
Projection: A starting outside cornerback with scheme versatility.
(Banks is Maryland CB No. 3)
Maryland cornerback Deonte Banks has a great blend of athleticism, physicality, and versatility to play the position at the NFL level.
Banks is an outside corner in Maryland’s scheme and has enough size and plenty of athleticism to stay on the outside in the NFL. He has experience on both the left and right side, and in press-man, off-man, and zone coverage.
Banks is a physical corner who’s competitive and disruptive in press coverage. He uses his jam early in routes before retreating into his backpedal. Banks has a quick, smooth, and compact backpedal in man coverage, allowing him to gain ground without having to flip his hips early in the route. That said, he does have very fluid hips when the time comes to open or flip his hips. He is easily able to stay in phase with almost all receivers throughout their routes. He also has excellent long speed and is able to carry receivers down the field on vertical routes.
Banks is also a skilled zone coverage corner. He’s an active communicator both before and after the snap, and does a good job of picking up and passing off receivers as they run through his coverage zones. He doesn’t stick with receivers when they are no longer his responsibility, nor does he find himself just covering grass. Banks also shows good football IQ in diagnosing route concepts and understanding coverage rules. He’s able to seamlessly transition from zone coverage to man coverage when the play demands.
He is also a willing run defender on the perimeter. He keeps an eye in the backfield when he’s in zone coverage and has a quick downhill trigger from the second level. Likewise, Banks is physical in taking on blockers when the play comes his way.
That said, while Banks is physical and willing in the run game, he can stand to improve his technique. He can be slow to shed blockers on the perimeter, and his tackling is more dependent on knocking ball carriers over with shoulder checks than good form tackles.
Finally, Banks has very little ball production with just 2 interceptions in 28 games. His physicality allows him to disrupt at the catch point, but he only rarely comes down with the ball. He can get a little over-aggressive when attempting to make interceptions, which can lead to being “grabby” at the top of routes.
Banks was not often used as a blitzer, and his ability in that regard is an unknown.
Overall Grade: 7.5
Deonte Banks projects as a starting outside cornerback with scheme versatility at the NFL level.
Banks has experience in both man and zone schemes and should be able to execute almost any coverage scheme asked of him. That said, Banks athleticism and physicality would be best used in an aggressive coverage scheme that uses plenty of man coverage. His football IQ would also allow him to be useful in defenses that use coverage rotations to disguise blitz packages.
Teams that heavily prioritize taking the ball away would likely look elsewhere. However, Banks’ blend of size and athleticism should allow him to match up with almost any receiver in the NFL. He has the oily hips to stay with particularly agile receivers, enough size to not be bullied by bigger receivers, and enough speed to stay with all but the faster receivers down the field.
Banks will need to work on his hand technique to avoid defensive pass interference calls, and his tackling form to avoid giving up yards after contact. However, he has the potential to be a good starting cornerback early in his career – if not immediately upon entering the NFL.