Maryland CB Deonte Banks has rocketed up into the first-round conversation through the 2023 NFL Draft process. Does he have the traits to be a lockdown cornerback at the NFL level? Here’s an in-depth look at the Terrapins defender and what he brings to the fold — centered on his elite athletic profile.
Deonte Banks NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Cornerback
- School: Maryland
- Current Year: Redshirt Junior
- Height/Weight: 6’0″, 197 pounds
- Length: 31 3/8″
- Hand: 9 3/8″
Playing football for the Terrapins was always a dream for Banks — who hailed from Edgewood High School in Edgewood, Maryland. He achieved that dream in 2019, signing as a three-star recruit. And as a true freshman, he flashed almost immediately.
In his first season, Banks logged eight starts in 11 games, notching his first pick against the Michigan State Spartans in late November. And in a truncated 2020 season, he maintained his part-time starting role, earning more reps in a talented Maryland DB room.
In 2021, Banks faced a type of adversity he hadn’t faced before, suffering a season-ending shoulder injury early in September. The injury forced him away from the field when he wasn’t ready to leave, but he’d be back soon enough. And when he returned, he came back with a vengeance.
2022 served as Banks’ triumphant return to not only the football field but to the 2023 NFL Draft discussion. He started full-time on the boundary alongside Jakorian Bennett, notching a pick and eight pass deflections in a season that earned him honorable mention All-Big Ten recognition.
Deonte Banks Scouting Report
Cornerbacks with size and athleticism have always been coveted, but in the modern NFL, that combination has grown invaluable. Banks fits that mold, and that’s what makes him one of the most coveted CBs in the class.
At 6’0″, 197 pounds, Banks has a lean, compact frame with good mass and above-average length. His size profile isn’t quite elite, but he has an exceptional overall frame, and he’s quantifiably elite as an athlete — with his short-area mobility and burst at the center of his profile.
As an athlete, Banks effortlessly explodes out of his stance. He has enough accelerative capacity to turn and run with receivers upfield, sticking to the hip pocket. Additionally, he flashes high-end explosiveness upfield out of stacked transitions, and he’s a very free-flowing athlete for his size.
The NFL Combine served as corroborating evidence for Banks’ athleticism, as the Maryland CB tested as one of the most athletic cornerback prospects of all time. Banks ran a blazing 4.35 40-yard dash with a 1.49 10-yard split and also logged a 42″ vertical and an 11’4″ broad jump.
Moving vertically, Banks has the long speed to consistently avoid being stacked by long-striders. And closer to the line, he also has the hip fluidity to quickly sink and redirect forward in response to out-breaking routes. In fact, Banks’ fluidity is one of the strongest areas of his game.
With his elastic, oily hips, Banks is able to quickly transition from inside leverage to outside response. He has the recovery athleticism and fluidity to quickly transition and regain positioning after being worked off-center by initial fakes. The Maryland CB can undergo up to 270-degree transitions with ease, swiftly aligning and carrying acceleration out of transitions.
Banks is a very smooth athlete but also shows off high-energy movement in close quarters. The Maryland CB has a visible quick twitch out of his stance and impressive foot speed for his size. He can use that foot speed to aid sharp direction changes and swivel around with ease, and he’s an explosive short-area mover who can match WRs with active, successive bursts.
Banks’ technique still has room for further refinement, but there are plenty of promising signs on tape. The Terrapins defender has shown he can use feet first in press and align his hips to squeeze receivers against the boundary. He stays square off the line, generally plays low in his stance, and uses active feet to match receivers off releases. To that end, he flashes patience and discipline with his feet and can gather WRs with successive jams.
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Expanding on Banks’ applied physicality in man coverage, the Maryland CB can use inside jams to claw WRs’ hands away and pinch them against the boundary while flipping upfield. Farther along in reps, he actively uses his length to wall receivers to the boundary while maintaining his stride. And at the line, he proactively uses two-hand jams to shock larger receivers and delay releases. He’s extremely tenacious at the point of attack.
Banks’ visible processing as a defender is another cause for optimism regarding his projection. Banks shows exceptional response to stimuli on quick route breaks. He can quickly recognize receiver intent and flip his hips in response, and he flashes phenomenal diagnosis ability and adaptability when tracking routes in off-man.
Pre-snap, Banks has shown he can process motions, communicate with teammates, and rotate coverages. And in zone, he can carry and pass off WRs, playing with good spatial awareness. With his active play recognition, he calls out familiar formations and can clamp down on screens.
At the catch point, Banks’ vertical athleticism and length give him a natural edge. But beyond that, he’s shown he can follow a WR’s eyes and obstruct the throwing window with his length when passes approach. He can track the ball over his shoulder in tight situations, disrupt with authority, rise vertically, and high-point lofted throws.
Banks is up-and-down in run support, but once again, his physical traits provide upside here. He has the play strength to shed solo blocks on the boundary. He can latch with his length and rip down opposing anchors after squaring up. Moreover, he’s shown he can peek outside around blocks to bait blockers, then wrench back inside and clog running lanes.
Banks’ Areas for Improvement
Banks tested extremely well at the NFL Combine, and he assuredly shows off his elite athleticism on tape. There are, however, times when he can better channel his athleticism and play to his numbers on the field.
Banks doesn’t always show elite long-track explosiveness, as his closing speed on route breaks at times leaves more to be desired. He also, at times, fails to close gaps in recovery against faster WRs. Additionally, Bank doesn’t quite have elite hip fluidity. He sometimes struggles to sink on 90-degree transitions upfield while in stride.
Having considered all this, Banks’ athletic foundation is superb overall. But where the Maryland CB can stand to improve is with his technique and applied physicality. At times, Banks can do a better job dictating reps with his length, as he sometimes plays passively and gives too much space. On the flip side, he can be caught tugging on frames when attempting to recover. He’s very volatile overall, which can invite volatile results.
Going further with Banks’ technique, the Maryland CB sometimes loses his balance on quick transitions, and he will occasionally tug himself upright at the end of his backpedal. On a related note, his plant-and-drive footwork out of his backpedal can be more efficient and composed.
On occasion, Banks plays a bit too tall at the line and can be tugged back past his center of gravity by forward releases. At the line, his timing of jams can improve. The Maryland CB sometimes gets caught flat-footed and extends prematurely, lurching and losing balance.
With his feet, Banks can be a bit uncontrolled and imbalanced, as early, panicked extensions can cause him to lose synergy. He also loses his balance when attempting to accelerate through stems at times, sometimes delaying his response at the catch point. Meanwhile, in off-man coverage, Banks sometimes gives too much cushion and is indecisive at stems.
Banks has functional ball skills, but he can be more consistent at getting his head around in coverage downfield. His hand precision and strength at the catch point can improve, as he can be outmuscled by larger receivers.
In run support, Banks sometimes lacks urgency when adjacent to plays and will, at times, fade away when obstructed by blocks. He can be late to recognize runs breaking outside, and he sometimes approaches tackles too upright, diluting his play strength.
Current Draft Projection for Maryland CB Deonte Banks
Banks grades as a fringe first-round prospect on my board. He’s a top-32 player, who could be elevated even higher with his elite athletic tools. Banks’ Combine performance was a big exclamation point for him, but all of the necessary qualities are visible on tape, too.
At 6’0″ and almost 200 pounds, Banks has the combined explosiveness, long speed, fluidity, short-area twitch, and foot speed to both match and gather receivers off the line, as well as trail and close gaps in zone. His overall athletic profile is elite, encompassing every tool necessary to cover in the modern NFL.
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Banks’ athletic profile is high-end in both quality and completeness, and on top of his physical foundation, he’s an extremely physical competitor who can jar receivers in press, make plays in run support, and use his competitive toughness to contest receivers at the catch point.
Banks’ man technique needs to become more consistent, and he can be a more consistent playmaker — both when getting his eyes on the ball, and when coming upfield in support. Nevertheless, Banks has flashed discipline with his technique, and he has the athletic tools and temperament to eventually become a scheme-versatile impact starter on the boundary with additional development.
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