Steelers Land New, Intriguing Name In Mel Kiper Jr.’s Latest Mock Draft

The overhaul of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ roster in Omar Khan’s first full offseason as GM continues.

While Pittsburgh has made some key additions in free agency, such as guards Isaac Seumalo and Nate Herbig, linebackers Cole Holcomb and Elandon Roberts, and cornerback Patrick Peterson, there remains some holes on the roster as the 2023 NFL Draft draws closer.

One such hole remains at cornerback despite the addition of Peterson. ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. attempted to plug that hole Tuesday in his latest mock draft, pairing the Steelers with physical, freakishly athletic cornerback Deonte Banks out of Maryland at No. 17 overall. Kiper paired the Terrapins standout with the Steelers Penn State’s Joey Porter Jr. already off the board and Oregon’s Christian Gonzalez, Illinois’ Devon Witherspoon and Mississippi State’s Emmanuel Forbes gone too.

“Cameron Sutton is out, veteran Patrick Peterson is in, but Pittsburgh’s biggest need hasn’t changed. It has to get younger — and faster — at cornerback,” Kiper Jr. writes regarding his selection of Banks. “Banks matched Forbes’ 40-yard dash time (4.35) at the Combine, and he did it 31 pounds heavier (though he measured 6-foot, two inches shorter than he was listed in college). His 2022 tape is one of the best I’ve seen in this class in terms of man coverage. He can shut down an entire side of the field. He’s a fit for Mike Tomlin’s defense.”

Banks is a name with which many Steelers fans needs to get familiar, as he’s a serious fit for the Steelers.

Banks is prototypical boundary CB, having the size and length (6001, 197 pounds, 31 3/8-inch arms) along with the thick build and physicality to jam receivers at the LOS and aid in run support. The Baltimore native only had two INTs in college, but his athletic profile is extremely intriguing.

Along with prototypical size and length, Banks clocked a 4.35 40-yard dash at the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine, along with a 42-inch vertical and an 11’4″ broad jump. Insane numbers.

In his college, Banks played in 30 career games and finished with 83 tackles, 13 passes defensed and two interceptions. He added one blocked kick. The production doesn’t scream first-round talent, but the tape shows a guy that was rarely targeted in the passing game due to his ability to jam receivers and completely shut down one side of the field.

Here’s what Steelers Depot’s own Alex Kozora had to say about Banks in his draft profile for the site: 

“Given his tightness, he’s an ideal fit in a Cover 3 scheme where he can carry and match routes vertically while not having to break down and defend in-cuts. He can use his closing speed and size to drive on comebacks and curls and keep a lid over the top. Banks is more of a linear athlete with clear talent and hasn’t played a ton of football over the last three years, just 19 games, so there should be more meat on the bone when it comes to rounding out his play.

“I might be a bit lower on Banks than where he could get selected, but my NFL comp is a recent one, Florida’s Kaiir Elam, a late first-round pick last season.”

It’s worth noting that Kozora doesn’t see Banks as a first-round talent, but we’ll see how the Steelers approach Maryland Pro Day, and if Banks is a pre-draft visitor. Seems like his stock is rocketing up the board after an incredible Combine.

Getting a talent like Banks would solidify the Steelers’ cornerback room with Peterson able to help mold him through that mentorship role he was signed for. A trio of Peterson, Banks and Levi Wallace won’t scare anyone on paper. But all three project to fit their roles well within the Steelers’ scheme, should Banks be the guy the Steelers ultimately target.

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