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Wednesday, May 23, 2018
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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs take CB Banks with first draft selection

TAMPA - Former Mississippi State cornerback Johnthan Banks considers himself a long-time Buccaneers fan, and as such he was one of the few who wasn’t all that happy to see fellow cornerback Darrelle Revis join the team.

“Tampa is where I’ve wanted to go forever, so it kind of hurt my feelings when they picked up Revis, because I didn’t think they’d take a corner (in the draft) after that,” Banks said. “But you know what, God works in mysterious ways.”

Sometimes, so do the Bucs. They did this year, all but ignoring a depleted secondary until they cut a deal with the Jets for Revis on Sunday and selected Banks on Friday with their first pick, 43rd overall, in the 2013 NFL draft.

The Bucs then spent their third-round selection, No.73 overall, on Mike Glennon, a tall (6-foot-7), spindly (225 pounds) strong-armed quarterback out of North Carolina State who gives the Bucs some insurance should starter Josh Freeman falter.

Glennon also figures to provide Freeman with the competition that Bucs coach Greg Schiano has been seeking for that position since Freeman threw nine interceptions in his last three games last year.

“We have a starting quarterback in Josh Freeman,” Schiano said. “But I think competition and quality depth across our roster is critical to us being a championship football team.”

Competition wasn’t the only reason the Bucs chose Glennon.

His size and strong arm fit their organizational prototype for a quarterback and, according to general manager Mark Dominik, he was the top player on their draft board when their turn to pick came up.

“This is a quarterback-driven league and any time you have a chance to bring in a guy that you can develop and has the (character) talent that fits your system, you take him,” Dominik said.

Glennon was inconsistent and struggled with his accuracy as a senior last year, completing just 58 percent of his passes, so he’ll probably need some time to develop into a starting-caliber player, Schiano said.

The expectations for Banks are different. The 6-2, 185-pounder has a good chance to step immediately into the starting lineup, where he could work opposite Revis as an outside corner at least on obvious passing downs.

That would allow the Bucs to work Eric Wright, their lone veteran returning starter at the cornerback position, in the slot, which is the position they have long considered Wright to be best suited for.

“That all comes with competition, so you just have to let it play out,” Schiano said of assigning starting duties. “You do whatever is best and then you move the parts, but what we’ve been able to do here is get the parts to move.”

The Bucs have been angling for the newest part for more than a year, consistently following Banks’ progress and growing more and more enamored of him as each scouting report came in.

“We went into his senior season and we already had good grades on him,” Dominik said. “And then he played well again this year, so he’s been a consistent football player.”

He has been an award winner, too. After making 63 tackles and intercepting four passes while breaking up seven more last year, Banks was named the 2012 Jim Thorpe Award winner as college football’s top defensive back.

Combined with his size, his press-coverage skills and leadership qualities (he was a Bulldogs team captain), Banks’ senior season put him at the top of the 2013 cornerback class, but he has been sliding down that class for weeks.

The slide was sparked by the 4.6-second 40-yard dash he ran at the scouting combine, but posting a 40-time that scouts consider slow for a cornerback didn’t sway the Bucs.

“That was probably what helped us get him at 43,” Dominik said. “I mean, people keep talking about the speed, but as we watched him we never felt that (he was hurt by that).

“He has such good instincts, such good length and such good ball skills that we were never concerned about the deep speed, because, when he had to push and shove and run to get into position, he did a great job of that.”

That ability to push and shove is a key part of a cornerback’s job in the Bucs defensive scheme because it mostly calls for the corners to play press and man-to-man coverages.

The Bucs do have a tendency to switch things up, though, and it is not only Banks’ ability but also the success he has had working in both man and zone schemes that really attracted him to Schiano.

“He’s really, really diverse in what he does, and we ask our corners to do a lot, everything from press to bail, to bait and playing off and rotating and he’s done all that and he’s shown he can do that,” Schiano said.

“And I really like the way he plays the game. As Mark said, he was the captain of his team; he was the guy who made their defense go and you love that, especially in a corner. That doesn’t happen very often.

“So we’re really excited as a coaching staff to get him. Dan Mullen, his head coach at Mississippi State, is a friend of ours, and he couldn’t say enough great things about him. Winner is the word that kept coming out of his mouth and we agree.”

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