Second Round: 43rd Pick
At one point, Johnthan Banks was considered an early first-round draft pick. He isn't as highly thought of anymore, but he is still a legitimate prospect.
Banks played cornerback at Mississippi State, but some project him to play safety in the NFL. Does he have the skills to be an early pick at cornerback, or is he doomed to switch positions? Just how high can Banks go in this draft, and where should he be?
Measuring in at 6'1" with 33 7/8" arms, Banks has terrific natural length. He plays with natural awareness and is adept at reading both the quarterback and wide receivers when in coverage. Banks is fairly smooth for such a tall cornerback, and he rarely struggles to turn in coverage.
He is natural at attacking toward the ball, be it against a run or a short pass play. Banks shows strong burst in charging toward the line of scrimmage and is a reliable tackler. When asked to, he showed a quick punch in press coverage.
Banks has rarely played in man coverage or pressed at the line of scrimmage. He has little experience backpedaling and will need to revamp his footwork. His lack of speed is an issue—wideouts run away, and Banks struggles to close any ground.
Banks needs to add strength to effectively cover bigger wide receivers and press at the line of scrimmage. At his current size, he is simply too weak and can be overpowered.
Banks' height and length are both solid natural assets. His lack of speed is not, however. At the NFL Scouting Combine, Banks ran just a 4.61 in the 40-yard dash. He is otherwise fairly athletic and quick, though. He needs to add strength but possesses the frame for additional weight.
Banks was a four-year starter at Mississippi State in addition to being a team captain. He has never been in trouble off the field. There is nothing but good information publicly available about Banks' character and intangibles.
At Mississippi State, Banks played off the line of scrimmage in zone coverage. He rarely pressed at the line and was almost never forced to use a backpedal. He instead played off, reading the quarterback in coverage.
Playing the Ball
This is perhaps Banks' biggest strength. He is superb at reading the quarterback, determining where the ball is going and breaking for it. One moment, Banks will be on the back of his feet, reading a play, and the next, he will be moving to the ball even as the quarterback throws it.
Banks is also capable of jumping up for a ball and adjusting in midair. His jumping ability, height and length are all helpful here, as he successfully times jump balls. He possesses strong hands and doesn't often drop an interception.
Against the Run
Banks is quick to charge against the run, and he is a solid tackler. He explodes toward the ball, doing anything he can to bring down the ball-carrier. Few cornerbacks show such aggression in run support.
Banks does, however, need to add strength to better disengage from blockers. He will be dominated by a stronger wideout at times.
This is not the best use of Banks' skills. At Mississippi State, he rarely played in man coverage, and he is raw there. Banks almost never showed a backpedal and would have to improve his footwork there.
He also lacks the speed to run with many wideouts downfield, and his somewhat tight hips don't help here either. Banks needs to gain strength in order to press at the line of scrimmage. Right now, he has a surprisingly quick jam, but more strength would help him push wide receivers off balance.
Banks will be drafted for his play in zone. He is excellent at reading the quarterback's eyes and breaking to the ball even as it is thrown. Banks explodes to the pass with surprising burst. He shows a knack for finding the ball and bringing it in for an interception.
Banks is a strong tackler. He occasionally lunges, but he usually brings his target down to the ground. A few more pounds would be helpful here; however, Banks is already one of the best tackling cornerbacks in this draft and can tackle running backs or wide receivers without too much concern.
Banks needs to work on staying low when moving backward. He often plays too high, hindering his ability to quickly swivel his hips and adjust with the wide receiver. Banks can also be too aggressive at times as he tries to make a play on the ball. He will overpursue passes, allowing big plays to happen.
Future Role/Scheme Versatility
Banks should play cornerback in a zone defense. In zone, he shows the ability to make plays and create turnovers. Zone defense also limits the damage done by his lack of speed and overall athleticism. Banks could also move inside to free safety, where his zone-coverage abilities would be similarly used.