Prospect Profile: Why Maryland CB Deonte Banks Could Fit At No. 26

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The Dallas Cowboys have several positions they could help with their 1st-round pick in the upcoming 2023 NFL Draft. One of their consensus needs is at cornerback, and a prospect who makes a lot of sense and could reasonably be available is Maryland’s Deonte Banks. If Banks does fall to the 26th pick, why should the Cowboys give him strong consideration?

First, let’s look at Dallas’ current situation at cornerback. Trevon Diggs is your star but is also entering the final year of his rookie contract. DaRon Bland had a sensational rookie year and should be one of the top three corner going forward. Beyond them, though, is a lot of uncertainty. Anthony Brown’s about to become a free agent and isn’t likely to return. Jourdan Lewis’ deal could give the Cowboys about $4.7 million in cap relief if he’s released. And unfortunately, neither Kelvin Joseph or Nahshon Wright have shown they can be counted on for a significant role in their third seasons.

Finding a stud outside corner to pair with Diggs would be a huge boon for the defense. Brown was never that guy; adequate at times but also burned more often than you’d like to see. Bland’s best work is in the slot and that’s also where Lewis plays. With the 27th pick projected to count about $2.54 million against the cap in his rookie season, Dallas could put him outside, keep Bland in the slot, and cut Lewis for a net gain of roughly $2.2 million in cap space while also hopefully upgrading the top three overall.

Diggs extension?

While the Cowboys should work hard to keep Diggs beyond this year, who knows how the contract talks might go? While the mission should be finding the right wingman for the next four or five seasons, the added bonus of having someone to potentially step into the CB1 role gives this even more credence.

Now that we’ve established the opportunity for a cornerback to come in and immediately help, what makes Deonte Banks a good candidate?

Banks has some of the trademark qualities of a CB in Dan Quinn’s scheme. He’s listed at 6’2″ and 205 pounds; size has always been a noted trait for Quinn’s corners going back to the Legion of Boom days in Seattle. But while big, Banks is also noted for fluidity and agility in his movement that allows him to react in quickly react in coverage and follow his receivers on their routes. He’s a true corner, not a safety playing man coverage.\

Banks also represents a potential steal due to how his college career unfolded. He only played in five games in 2020, as did the rest of the Terrapins, due to the outbreak of COVID-19. He then missed most of 2021 with a shoulder injury suffered in Maryland’s second game. Last year was Banks’ only full season since being redshirted, which has likely reduced his draft stock.

The anti-Diggs

One knock you can certainly have against Banks is his lack of interceptions in college. With just two picks in four years, Banks isn’t the ballhawk that some teams and fans covet. But for a guy who’s going to get a lot of targets playing with Trevon Diggs, the biggest concern should be his ability to hold up in coverage.

When targeted the last three seasons, Banks has allowed average QB ratings of 71.4, 69.8, and 65.6. He may not give you many turnovers but he also hopefully won’t be on the wrong side of big plays too often. It’s reminiscent of former Cowboys CB Byron Jones, who also dealt with criticism over his lack of interceptions but was still one of the better cover corners in football.

Deonte Banks is currently projected to go anywhere from the top-15 to the early 2nd round, which is typical this early in the draft process. We’ll see what the Scouting Combine does for his stock, but hopefully it at least keeps him as a reasonable target for the Cowboys at the 27th pick. He seems to fit Dallas’ defensive style and needs very well.

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