Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Can Johnthan Banks Supplant Eric Wright at Cornerback?

Travis Wakeman@@traviswakeman10Featured Columnist IVJune 13, 2013

TAMPA, FL -  May 03:  Cornerback Johnthan Banks #27 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers talks to the media after a rookie mini-camp May 3, 2013 at the Buccaneers training center in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had the NFL's worst pass defense in 2012, giving up 297.4 yards per game through the air. Clearly, the team put an emphasis on changing that in 2013.

They started by luring (NFL.com) safety Dashon Goldson from San Francisco via free agency. He comes to the Bucs fresh off being selected to the Pro Bowl following the last two seasons.

Next, the team pulled off one of the biggest moves (ESPN) of the offseason when they acquired Darrelle Revis from the New York Jets, arguably the best cornerback in the league.

However, they also used a second-round draft pick to bring in Johnthan Banks out of Mississippi State. He figures to compete with Eric Wright for the other starting cornerback job across from Darrelle Revis.

Banks was not only named to the All-SEC first-team in 2012 following his senior season, he was also chosen for the Jim Thorpe award, given to the country's best defensive back. Players like Deion Sanders and Charles Woodson are just a few to win that award since its inception in 1986. 

Banks is a very instinctive player with a myriad of skills. His size (6'2", 185 pounds) will aid him against some of the bigger, more physical receivers he will see such as Atlanta's Julio Jones. 

He is a solid defender in both man-to-man and zone coverage and is a very good tackler. He also has great ball skills and displays the ability to recover if he is initially beat on a route.

Banks doesn't show too many weaknesses.

Wright is a former second-round draft choice himself and is now a six-year veteran of the NFL. But after signing a five-year, $37.5 million deal last March, he registered just 37 tackles and one interception during his first season with the Bucs.

Wright has 14 career interceptions, but he was very much a part of the worst pass defense in the league last season, starting 10 games. He won't give up his position easily, but Banks seems to fit the mold of what Tampa wants to do much better.

Along with Goldson and second-year safety Mark Barron, the Bucs are building a very physical secondary, one that can push around the up-tempo passing offenses that teams like Atlanta and New Orleans like to run. Throw Revis into that equation and you have a recipe for success from a defensive standpoint.

The competition between Banks and Wright should be one of the most exciting to watch in training camp and preseason games, but in the end, the job should go to the rookie. 

Tampa Bay gave up 4,758 yards passing last season while allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete 65.4 percent of their passes with guys like Leonard Johnson and E.J. Biggers in the lineup. Wright can be included in that group, which was easily the league's worst. But a secondary consisting of Revis, Barron, Goldson and Banks could easily be one of the best.