Once considered among the best corners in the 2013 draft, Jonathan Banks’ draft stock might be in trouble after clocking a 4.61 in the forty at the combine. Consider that just three other corners ran in the 4.6s, and of those three only Cal’s Marc Anthony is expected to be drafted (in the 7th round). General managers tend to have a “cutoff point” system, which is part of the reason the Seahawks got Russell Wilson in the 3rd round last year. You’d have to think that cutoff point for corner speed would be faster than a 4.61.
Since we don’t know what the actual NFL draft boards will look like, we can only hazard a guess as to how much his stock will suffer. Tony Pauline of Sports Illustrated has excellent NFL connections and had the most accurate big board last year. I don’t know how good his connections are this year, but he now has Jonathan Banks all the way down at #63, which potentially puts him in play for Seattle at #56. I think Seattle is pretty unlikely to draft a corner this early, but Banks is a player worth looking into given Seattle’s scheme and how it de-emphasizes corner speed.
Banks has excellent tape. I think he made a mistake running the forty at the combine. You wouldn’t suspect speed problems based on what he did on the field. Had he forced teams to grade him just from his tape, I’m pretty sure he’d be a mid-first rounder. In three games I don’t recall him ever being burned by a receiver even once.
Mississippi State used Banks in many ways. They had him blitz quite often and even lined him up as an outside linebacker a few times. He even returned punts. I know it’s cliche, but Banks really is a “football player” in the truest sense. No matter how Mississippi State used him, Banks looked natural in every task given.
One of the things that stands out about Banks is how quick his feet are. He can plant and explode with good short area quickness. He chops his feet very well and is tough for ball carriers to dodge in the open field. His backpedal is pretty to look at. He keeps his hips down too.
When Banks is allowed to face the quarterback, he shows excellent ball skills, hands, and return ability after the interception.
I should clarify something I said earlier- when I say Banks has good short area quickness, I really mean he has a quick first step or two. If he has to close a five to ten yard gap, his closing speed appears to be below average. That can be a bit of a problem in coverage sometimes- he’s not able to make the kinds of plays that require closing a moderate amount of space in very little time. Banks could end up being limited in zone coverage, especially when compared to alternatives like Robert Alford.
Banks is a big hitter and usually a good tackler, though he often goes for the hit instead of wrapping up, and in one instance that led to a touchdown given up on a kickoff.
I think Seattle will like Jonathan Banks a lot. Not only do they value speed less at corner, but they value long arms a lot more than most teams do- viewing arm length as a compensating factor for speed. Jonathan Banks has 33⅞” arms- that’s enough arm length to play offensive tackle. Demetrius McCray of Appalachian State has the same arm length, but no other corner comes within even a full inch of arm length. When considering the arm length, Seattle might view Banks as effectively having the coverage ability of a 4.55 player. Banks is a physical player the defends the run well and provides added value as a blitzer. Pete Carroll likes to blitz his corners.
I think a late round player like McCray is more likely to be a Seahawk than Banks for many reasons, but if the Seahawks love Banks polished skillset and feel they can afford to draft whatever they want in the late 2nd round, Banks at #56 could be a possibility.