Notre Dame managed to break into the College Football Playoffs in 2020, and their offensive line was a big reason why. Manning the tackle spots, Liam Eichenberg and Robert Hainsey provided the Fighting Irish with stability, and on the interior, Aaron Banks made his presence felt. The Notre Dame offensive guard has the size and the experience, but is Aaron Banks a legitimate NFL Draft prospect? How does he project at the next level?
Aaron Banks NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Offensive Guard
- School: Notre Dame
- Current Year: Redshirt Junior
- Height: 6’5 3/8″
- Weight: 338 pounds
- Wingspan: 82″
- Arm: 33 1/8″
- Hand: 10 1/8″
Tony Pauline’s Aaron Banks Scouting Report
Positives: Large, explosive lineman who is best suited for a power gap offense. Fires off the snap, blocks with proper lean, and easily controls defenders at the point. Opens up the running lanes, anchors in pass protection, and blocks down on opponents, completely smothering them from the action.
Plays with a nasty attitude, keeps his head on a swivel, and always looks for someone to hit. Jolts defenders with a violent hand punch and easily knocks opponents from their angles of attack.
Negatives: Minimally effective blocking in motion. Cannot slide in space. Struggles to adjust and cannot hit a moving target.
Analysis: Banks is a big, powerful lineman with outstanding size. He plays to his measurables, but is not light on his feet, and will struggle in any system that asks him to move around the field. In the proper system, Banks could start at the next level.
Aaron Banks Player Profile
The Fighting Irish are known for their ability to produce top-tier offensive linemen. Under head coach Brian Kelly, Notre Dame has produced a slew of quality NFL starters on the protection unit, most notably Quenton Nelson, Ronnie Stanley, Zack Martin, Nick Martin, and Mike McGlinchey. Every so often, schools establish pipelines at positions of importance. It’s safe to say Notre Dame has an NFL pipeline on the offensive line.
Aaron Banks entered that pipeline in 2017. At the time, Banks was a massive high school prospect hailing out of El Cerrito, California. He had many local offers, but Banks’ frame and skill set earned him national attention before long. Rated as a four-star prospect and the 278th overall prospect in the class on ESPN’s board, Banks fielded offers from schools like Michigan, Oregon, Florida, Wisconsin, and USC.
Despite the interest within his state, Banks chose to go all-in on his NFL potential. He signed with the team best known for developing his kind of talent: Notre Dame.
Aaron Banks’ career as a Notre Dame guard
Banks came to Notre Dame with plenty of promise. However, it would take some time for him to receive his opportunity as a starting offensive lineman. As a true freshman, Banks did not see playing time. Instead, he logged experience on the scout team, starting the acclimation process to the collegiate level.
Banks’ lack of playing time ultimately culminated in a redshirt, and in 2018, he came back with more readiness to compete. Banks played in all 13 games during the 2018 season, and midway through the year, he broke into the starting lineup as the team’s left guard. Aaron Banks maintained that position throughout the rest of the season, and in fact, he would maintain it for two more years after that.
Banks’ strong 2020 campaign
A two-and-a-half-year starter, Banks saved his best for last. In 2020, he helped anchor one of the strongest offensive lines in the nation, helping lead the Fighting Irish to the playoff showcase. While Notre Dame ended up losing to Alabama in the first round, Banks himself was validated with first-team All-ACC recognition, the first such honor of his career.
After finishing his collegiate career on a high note and accepting an invitation to the 2021 Reese’s Senior Bowl, Banks officially declared for the 2021 NFL Draft in early January. Now, the Notre Dame guard seeks to prolong his success as an interior blocker. By now, plenty of NFL teams have taken notice of his potential.
Analyzing Aaron Banks’ NFL Draft profile
Aaron Banks shows a lot of promise on tape. It starts with his physical makeup.
At over 6-foot-5, with a thick 338-pound frame, Banks is an imposing specimen. His sturdy base allows him to absorb opposing power, and his length allows him to impose his own. He’s a powerful blocker with an exciting ability to recoil against power and levy impressive blocks on second efforts. There’s a lot of pent-up potential with Banks, and that’s clear. He also plays with good knee bend and has good mechanical congruence.
Banks’ athletic profile
As an athlete, Banks shows similar potential. He’s not elite by any means, but he has good straight-line explosiveness for his size. He also shows flashes of good lateral fluidity, although he can be more consistent there.
As a zone blocker, he brings a lot of heat traversing across the line, and he gets to the second level with solid urgency. Once there, he has an enticing mauler mentality. He can escort players out of the play with his length and leg drive, and his ability to generate bursts of power helps him maximize his opportunities.
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Expanding on Banks’ physical traits, he compounds them with excellent mental traits as well. As mentioned above, Banks is aggressive and tirelessly competitive, and he relishes putting opponents in the dirt. His redirecting strength enables him to follow through with this style, but not all linemen seek out work the way Banks does.
The Notre Dame guard keeps his eyes up as he stands by to help in pass protection, and he shows flashes of fast, proactive hand usage. He can swat away opposing swipes as they come his way, and he has the grip strength to latch on and neutralize after gaining the advantage.
What are the potential concerns with Aaron Banks?
Athletically and fundamentally, there are still some areas where Banks can keep growing. I think he’s an above-average athlete for the offensive guard position. However, there were times on tape when his lateral mobility and balance left something to be desired. It doesn’t always take much to knock him off-center. He has the grip strength and base to recover, but this can hurt his production capacity on a given play.
Additionally, when Banks doesn’t have proper knee bend, his lateral mobility suffers. While he has good straight-line explosiveness, he sometimes struggles to close off gaps quickly side to side. He also struggles to recover when he overshoots blocking angles.
Banks has room to get a little bit stronger. He’s already a powerful guard with excellent flashes of raw authoritative strength. However, some of those flashes derive from him using his length as a conduit. It’s worth noting that you want to see that proactive usage from a lineman. Nevertheless, when Banks gets into battles with equally powerful linemen, he sometimes flexes his upper body and gives up space. Adding more raw power could help him here.
Furthermore, Banks’ pass protection plan can be more refined. He has the capacity to combat pass-rushing moves and latch on, but he can do a better job combining those two functions in the future.
Aaron Banks’ best fits in the 2021 NFL Draft
I would have liked to see more athletic upside from Banks at the Senior Bowl National Team practices in a more controlled setting. I thought Banks only had a decent week in Mobile at best. Nevertheless, the tape takes precedence, and on the tape, there’s enough to say that Banks could be a potential starter.
He’s a decent athlete with good length, power, and lower body mechanics, and he also brings the right mentality to trench warfare. On top of all that, Banks also has some limited versatility. He’ll play at guard in the NFL, but he did play limited reps at left tackle with Notre Dame, with mixed results.
Ultimately, given his lateral restrictions, the interior where Banks is meant to be, and on the interior, he offers solid depth and starting upside. It’s always nice to have elite athletes at every position, but there’s a threshold past which above-average athleticism is acceptable on the interior line. I think Banks is beyond that threshold.
As a pass protector, he’s disciplined, well-grounded, and proactive. And as a run blocker, he’s angry, physical, and mobile enough to track downfield. Banks is a borderline top-100 prospect for me. If the Notre Dame guard doesn’t sneak into Round 3, early-to-mid Day 3 seems like an excellent value range for him.
Which teams could best use Banks’ skill set?
Banks projects well as a guard in multiple schemes. He has enough mobility and short-range explosiveness to carry out zone concepts. Additionally, in power schemes, his length-power conversion and straight-line burst translate extremely well. He translates better to power schemes, but he’s diverse enough to earn universal consideration. Because of this, many teams could consider picking Banks in the middle rounds.
His style feels like a good fit for hard-nosed teams like the Titans, Steelers, Ravens, and Seahawks. However, he has enough all-around utility to fill a role for more diverse teams like the 49ers, Panthers, and Chargers.
For much of the NFL Draft process, Aaron Banks has been hidden in the middle of the pack. There is a reason for that. He’s not quite a finished product yet. Nevertheless, there’s a lot to like if you’re the team developing him. If he could trim down to 320 or 325 and further refine his frame, it’s intriguing to think about how much more athleticism he could unlock. He already has good mechanical awareness, and he has enough athleticism, length, and power to be molded into a threat on the line of scrimmage.
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