Commentary | Tampa Bay Buccaneers find perfect complement to Revis with Johnthan Banks

adell@bradenton.comApril 27, 2013 

Johnthan Banks had one destination in mind when he finished his career at Mississippi State.

It's why he felt bad when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed Darrelle Revis on Sunday.

"It kind of hurt my feelings. But I'm glad they picked up me up now. They've got some good guys to play with like Revis, Dashon Goldson, Mark Barron, Ahmad Black, those type of guys," Banks said after the Bucs made him the 43d overall pick in Friday's draft.

The cornerback didn't know he had been on the minds of Bucs head coach Greg Schiano and general manager Mark Dominik for some time.

They loved his passion and heard nothing but good things about him from Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen.

Selecting Banks with their first pick in this year's draft unveils a lot of the thinking over at One Buc Place.

It means what Schiano has been saying about cornerback Eric Wright is a smoke screen.

In Wright he does not trust, but he will tolerate him for the time being.

Banks is more than insurance policy. He will battle Wright for the starting cornerback position opposite Revis, and Schiano indicated the competition is wide open. He fits the mold Schiano keeps talking about. He wants players who play with passion and want to be a Buccaneer.

"I thought they weren't going to take a corner after they picked up Darrelle Revis, but God works in mysterious ways. I am just stunned," Banks said. "It's an honor that's where I wanted to go forever."

In the third round the Buccaneers selected North Carolina State quarterback Mike Glennon.

Glennon completed over 58 percent of his passes for 4,031 yards, 31 touchdowns and 17 interceptions for the Wolfpack as a senior. He was the 73rd overall pick of the draft.

Bucs coach Greg Schiano has said he'd like to increase competition at every position with the Bucs, including quarterback, where Josh Freeman is entering the final year of the contract he signed as a first-round pick in 2009.

You might say Schiano is feeling blessed after picking up two cornerbacks who will go a long way in repairing the team's biggest weakness.

"We ask our corners to do a lot, everything from press to bail to baiting, rotating and he's done all that. I like the way he plays the game," Schiano said.

After giving up the 13th overall pick to acquire cornerback Revis, the Bucs can't afford to see that go to waste if Wright falters.

The Bucs have a lot of concerns on defense, particularly on the defensive front, where they need to improve their pass rush. There is a feeling they can fulfill that need in later rounds, but Banks was too good to pass up.

Banks won the 2012 Jim Thorpe Award, which goes to the nation's best defensive back.

At one time, the Mississippi State product was being talked about as one of the elite cornerbacks in the draft, but after turning in a disappointing time of 4.59 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the combine, his stock dropped.

He was never known for elite speed, and his combine time should not devalue his worth. The 6-foot-1, 185-pounder has great size and length and matches up well against the bigger receivers. He's very physical and strong in blitzing and in run support.

Dominik downplayed the speed issue and says Banks has enough other attributes to make up for what some might see as a deficiency. This pick might be the GM's way of saying he had it right from the beginning. The GM went for length three years ago in Myron Lewis and fell short.

"He (Banks) has got such good instincts, such good length and such good ball skills," Domink said. "Are you concerned about the deep speed? No because you love the length on the player, the ball skills and when he had to push and shove and run, when he needs to run and get in position, he did a great job of that."

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Florida fans will never forget Banks. His interception in 2010 helped the Bulldogs beat the Gators. The previous season, he intercepted Tim Tebow twice and returned one pick 100 yards.

Banks thought about coming out last season, but after the NFL advisory committee gave him a fourth round grade he decided to stay in school.

He has a build similar to Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, but is more physical than most cornerbacks and could play safety in pinch.

At 24, Banks is more mature than most kids coming out of college and is a steal as a second-round pick, scouts have said.

He played one season at safety before finishing his final two seasons at cornerback. During his college career, he had 16 interceptions, including three he returned for a touchdowns and 26 pass deflections.

Alan Dell, Herald sports writer, can be reached at 941-745-7080, ext. 2112. Follow him on Twitter at @ADellSports.

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