After having to wait until Day 2 of the NFL draft to make their first selection, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers chose cornerback Johnthan Banks with the 43rd overall pick, landing a player they were potentially interested in at 13th overall.
The addition of Banks (6'2", 185 lbs.) immediately upgrades Tampa Bay's 32nd-ranked pass defense, a unit that not only allowed 297.4 passing yards per game last season, but also 69 passing plays of 20-plus yards and 30 touchdowns as well. Oh, and opposing quarterbacks had an average quarterback rating of 93.5, fifth-worst in the league.
Banks is the reigning Thorpe Award winner, which is given to the nation's top collegiate defensive back. He picked off four passes and broke up another 11 last season for Mississippi State.
With Darrelle Revis and Eric Wright the likely starting cornerbacks and Ronde Barber still pondering his future, Banks likely begins the season as a part-time player in obvious passing situations, most notably in dime defensive packages.
That's not to say Banks won't eventually see his playing time increase as the season wears on, but that is dependent upon how quickly he can show the coaching staff that he is capable of increased responsibilities.
Consider for a moment that youth reigns supreme in Tampa Bay's secondary, as the above-mentioned Revis and Wright, as well as the recently signed Dashon Goldson, combine for 21 years of NFL experience. The other defensive backs on roster have 26 combined years of experience.
So, what does that mean for Banks?
It tells me that with the youth movement in full swing, Banks will be afforded every opportunity to succeed, especially because the Bucs will have to face the likes of Drew Brees, Matt Ryan and Cam Newton twice a year for the foreseeable future.
While youth may dominate the secondary, barring any unforeseen circumstances, Banks is not only going to take a roster spot from someone who saw regular playing time last season, but he should also find himself toward the top of the depth chart once the season begins in September.
As I touched on earlier, the Bucs are in a division with some of the best quarterbacks in the league. As such, their secondary is under constant barrage, and Banks has the ability to make an impact as rookie, particularly in a nickel or dime role early on.
It's hard to "predict" individual stats this early on, but suffice it to say that if the Bucs are bombarded anywhere near as often as they were last season, Banks will have ample opportunity to make a name for himself in his first season.
That said, Banks stands a much better chance of helping the secondary improve as a whole, not necessarily achieving personal success in 2013.
And I'm sure if you asked most Bucs fans, they'd be just fine with anything other than the worst pass defense in the league this season.
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