Former Mississippi State cornerback Johnthan Banks was selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the 11th pick of the second round (43rd overall) in the NFL Draf tonight.
Banks was the second MSU player picked tonight. Fellow cornerback Darius Slay was taken 36th overall by Detroit. The two teamed up as one of the SEC’s best cornerback tandems in 2012, combining for nine interceptions.
Banks, who starred at East Webster High School in Maben – about 20 minutes from Starkville – came on the scene as a freshman. He intercepted Florida quarterback Tim Tebow twice in one game and returned both for touchdowns, the first one covering 100 yards.
His career took off from there. Banks became a full-time starter at corner as a sophomore, and he went on to record 16 career interceptions, tied with Walt Harris for most in school history. As a senior, Banks made four picks and won the Jim Thorpe Award, which goes to the nation’s top defensive back. He was also named a second-team All-American by the Associated Press. He was fifth on the team with 62 tackles and had a team-leading seven pass break-ups.
Banks was receiving a lot of first-round buzz after his senior year, but after running a 4.61-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, his stock began to fall. Banks can make up for that supposed lack of speed with his length, ball skills and general athletic ability.
“You never felt that, because he’s got such good instincts and ball skills, you never felt you were concerned with deep speed,” Tampa Bay GM Mark Dominik said in a press conference.
Banks was Tampa Bay’s first pick in this draft. The Bucs did not have a pick in the first round after trading the 13th overall pick to the New York Jets in exchange for three-time All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis. The Bucs went 7-9 last season.
“I really like the way he plays the game,” head coach Greg Schiano said. “He’s a captain, and he was a guy who made their defense go, period. You love that, especially in a corner. That doesn’t happen very often.”
Dominik said the Bucs’ draft room “erupted” when the Banks pick was announced. As for Banks’ reaction, Schiano said, “He was thrilled. His words were, ‘I can’t wait to get there.'”