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Deonte Banks can be Giants’ biggest difference-maker

Banks faces lofty expectations in Wink Martindale’s aggressive defense

NCAA Football: Northwestern at Maryland
Deonte Banks
Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants may not have gotten a wide receiver in the first round of the draft, but the slight draft-day slide of Deonte Banks still worked in their favor. Wink Martindale was jubilant at the selection for good reason. Banks fills a major void in the Giants’ defense and can potentially make a big difference out of the gate.

By the numbers

Height: 6-foot-2
Weight: 205
Age: 22
Position: Cornerback
Experience: Rookie
Contract: has not signed rookie deal yet; slot is valued at four years, $13,579,393 | 2023 cap hit: Projected $2,468,981

Career to date

Banks played in 30 games over four seasons at Maryland, starting 21. He played in only two games in 2021 before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury. In 2019-20, he put up Pro Football Focus grades of 69.7 and 60.1 after allowing a combined 22 for 38 receptions (57.9%) for 274 yards, two touchdowns (both as a freshman), one interception, and three pass breakups.

Banks’ senior year was his strongest, as he recorded 38 total tackles, 0.5 for loss, eight pass breakups, one interception, and 0.5 sacks. He allowed a passer rating of just 71.6 when targeted, as opposing quarterbacks completed just 26-of-60 targets (43.7%) for 258 yards when throwing his way. He did allow four touchdowns, though. His PFF coverage grade was 74.3, and his overall grade was 72.0. He was called for eight penalties.

Banks had a tremendous season as a tackler, as he put up a PFF grade of 89.2 by missing just one tackle for a 2.8% rate.

2023 outlook

Banks will likely enter the season as the Giants’ starting outside cornerback opposite Adoree’ Jackson. It’s a big responsibility for a rookie, as the learning curve at cornerback is steep. However, Banks’ performance against Marvin Harrison Jr. opened many analysts’ eyes, giving a tantalizing glimpse of the capabilities he can bring to the NFL level.

Still, Banks figures to face growing pains. His eight penalties in 2022 can translate to a lot of laundry at the NFL level. That being said, the Jets’ Sauce Gardner came into the NFL with the same issue and became a first-team All-Pro in Year 1, although he was called for five penalties. While Banks is not Gardner, he offers some similar athleticism (9.99 relative athletic score, 4.35-second 40-yard dash, 1.49-second 10-yard split) and aggressiveness in man coverage. However, given his lack of ball-hawking instincts in college, he likely will not be able to make up for early mistakes with big plays on the ball.

For a team that ranked 22nd in pass defense DVOA last season, having another cornerback who can man the fort behind Martindale’s blitzes can be huge. The Giants took an incremental approach toward improving their defense, bringing in Rakeem Nunez-Roches, A’Shawn Robinson, and Bobby Okereke to deal with their run defense woes. Banks is their biggest addition in the passing game and figures to have a chance to make his mark early.