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Bucs select Mississippi State CB Johnthan Banks

Remember when you were wondering what the Bucs were going to do about their major cornerback need?

Well, in less than a week, the Bucs have completed a trade for the best cornerback in football, Darrelle Revis, and tonight, drafted one of the top cornerbacks available in the NFL draft.

In selecting Mississippi State's Johnthan Banks, the Bucs got themselves a player with a stellar college record, with 16 career interceptions and a player who captured the Thorpe Award in 2012, given to the country's best defensive back.

Banks is a former safety who switched to cornerback while at Mississippi State, giving him a unique blend of skills. He'll likely play immediately in Tampa, with his physical style meshing well with the Bucs' press coverage techniques.

The Bucs likely considered a number of other cornerbacks, including Boise State's Jamar Taylor, not to mention some of the defensive ends who remained on the board, like SMU's Margus Hunt.

But the selection of Banks solidifies a secondary in a major way, helping to transform a unit that was the NFL's worst in 2012 in a strength of a team intent on making the playoffs for the first time in five years.

Ironically, it was the addition of Revis that led Banks to the conclusion that the Bucs wouldn't be drafting a cornerback. But he was happy to be wrong.

"That's where I wanted to go," Banks said of Tampa Bay. "It kind of hurt my feelings when they picked up Revis, but it's a blessing to get to play with those guys: Revis, Dashon Goldson, Mark Barron and Ahmad Black, those types of guys. . . I thought they weren't going to take a corner after they picked up Revis, but God works in mysterious ways. I'm just blessed."

In the 6-foot-2 Banks, the Bucs see a long, rangy cornerback able to play bigger than his underwhelming size (185 pounds). And he's an ideal fit for the challenging roles the Bucs ask their cornerbacks to perform, coach Greg Schiano said.

"He's really, really diverse in what he does in (Mississippi State's) scheme," Schiano said. "We ask our corners to do a lot, everything from press to bail to baiting to (playing) off, rotating. He's 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 their defense go, period. You love that, especially in a corner. That doesn't happen very often."

The Bucs considered moving up in the draft both Thursday, during the first round, and earlier this evening in the early portions of the second round. But they projected Banks would be there at No. 43, and were rewarded for their patience. In the process, they landed a player Schiano said will immediately be allowed to compete for a starting job, presumably opposite Revis. That puts Banks in a potential battle with veteran Eric Wright, who was re-signed to a re-negotiated one-year contract eariler this month.

And when the Bucs finally confirmed their pick with NFL officials in New York and Dominik announced it to the assemblage of scouts in the draft room, the reaction was not muted.

"The draft room erupted," Dominik said.

Johnthan Banks at a glance

Position: Cornerback

School: Mississippi State

Height, weight: 6-2, 185 pounds

Hometown: Maben, Miss.

College: 2012 Thorpe Award winner, presented to nation's top defensive back; recorded 221 tackles, four sacks, 16 interceptions in four-year career; Switched from safety to cornerback as a sophomore; His 320 interception-return yards is most in school history and fifth all-time in the Southeastern Conference.
High school: Three-sport standout at East Webster (Miss.) High, playing football, basketball and baseball; Rated the 63rd-best prospect in nation by after starting four years.

Personal: Married with one-year old son; general studies major.