Friday, February 23, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs add Banks at cornerback

TAMPA — Playing cornerback for Bucs coach Greg Schiano is not for everyone. In Tampa Bay's aggressive defense, it is a stressful, exhausting and mentally taxing proposition, one not every cornerback is capable of.

That's why the Bucs choose carefully when addressing personnel at the position, including their selection of Mississippi State's Johnthan Banks in the second round of the draft Friday night.

A tall, lanky prospect at 6 feet 2, 185 pounds, the former safety is regarded for his feisty play, and willingness to get in receivers' faces and use his hands at the line of scrimmage.

Asked to describe his style of play, Banks said exactly what the Bucs wanted to hear.

He compared himself to Richard Sherman and Antonio Cromartie, Seahawks and Jets cornerbacks, respectively.

"Big, tall guys," Banks said. "They get after people and play aggressive, and they love to play football."

The Bucs saw those qualities in Banks, which is why they believe he can be successful in their scheme.

"We ask our corners to do a lot, everything from press (coverage) to bail (coverage) to baiting to (playing) off, rotating," Schiano said. "(Banks has) done all that. He's shown that he can do that. I really like the way he plays the game. He was the captain. He was the guy who made (Mississippi State's) defense go, period. You love that, especially in a corner. That doesn't happen very often."

Banks also was productive.

In recording 16 interceptions, he tied a Mississippi State career record and won the Thorpe Award, given to the nation's top defensive back, last season.

The Bucs have remade their secondary this offseason. First, they signed All-Pro safety Dashon Goldson (five years, $41.25 million, $22 million guaranteed) from the 49ers. Then they acquired All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis from the Jets (and signed him to a six-year, $96 million contract that includes no guaranteed money).

At cornerback specifically they have gotten more of the sort of personnel Schiano wants and needs. Revis and Banks represent the prototypical cornerback for Tampa Bay's scheme.

Schiano said Banks will enter training camp in a position to compete for a starting job, presumably across from Revis, with veteran Eric Wright his likely competition.

The confidence that allows Banks to successfully play his aggressive style can only help in a position battle.

"I played in the SEC for four years," Banks said. "Week in, week out, you have to be ready. You have to be on your toes. You're going to play against the best every week no matter who it is. Doesn't matter if it's the worst team in the league, you're going to get their best.

"I'm competitive. I like to compete. I don't like anyone to beat me. It's you against me. May the best man win."

Said general manager Mark Dominik: "He took the (opponent's) No. 1 guy. That's a tough road to hoe as a corner in the SEC."

The Bucs believe they got their man, bypassing other cornerbacks — including Boise State's Jamar Taylor — and resisting the urge to trade up in order to draft others they liked.

And their feelings about Banks were reinforced by what happened immediately after they confirmed their pick with NFL officials in New York.

"The draft room," Dominik said, "erupted."

Stephen F. Holder can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @HolderStephen.

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