MSU's Slay, Banks drafted

By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal

Banks Drafted by Buccaneers in Second Round (43rd Overall)
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.

MSU’s Slay drafted by Lions in second round (36th Overall)

Former Mississippi State cornerback Darius Slay was selected by the Detroit Lions with the fourth pick of the second round in the NFL Draft tonight. He’s the 36th pick overall.

After flying under the radar most of his senior season, Slay started getting noticed thanks to the Senior Bowl and his Combine performance, where he ran a 4.36-second 40-yard dash. Some NFL executives reportedly believe Slay has a higher ceiling than teammate Johnthan Banks, who won the Jim Thorpe Award and was named a second-team All-American by the Associated Press. It was thought for most of the lead-up to the draft that Banks would go ahead of Slay, but the latter’s stock continued to climb.

After making 23 tackles and one interception – which he returned 72 yards for a touchdown versus Georgia – as a junior, Slay had 40 tackles and a team-leading five INTs last fall. Slay, a transfer from ICC, worked his way into a starting role as a senior, with Corey Broomfield moving to safety.

Slay is the 10th MSU player to be drafted since Dan Mullen became head coach prior to the 2009 season.

Click here for more at Brad Locke’s Inside Mississippi State Sports Blog.