Steelers Paired With Emerging Young CB In Latest Mock Draft From NFL Network’s Bucky Brooks

It’s no secret that the Pittsburgh Steelers are going to draft a cornerback.

Where they decide to take a cornerback in the 2023 NFL Draft next month is what’s up for debate, whether that’s at No. 17 overall in the first round, No. 32 or No. 49 in the second round, or later.

For NFL Network’s Bucky Brooks, the Steelers need to get their cornerback in the first round, even with it being a deep class. That’s why he went with Maryland cornerback Deonte Banks to the Black and Gold in his latest mock draft for 

“The ultra-athletic defender from Maryland has the tools to develop into a high-end cover corner in time,” Brooks writes. “With eight-time Pro Bowler Patrick Peterson in place to set an example, Banks could quickly mature into a solid starter for the Steelers by the end of his rookie season.”

The selection of Banks in the latest mock draft from Brooks comes just one week after ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. paired the Terrapins’ shutdown cornerback with the Steelers. Brooks has the Steelers passing on the likes of Tennessee OT Darnell Wright, Clemson defensive tackle Bryan Bresee and Michigan defensive tackle Mazi Smith in the first round, all of whom go in Brooks’ latest mock.

With the Steelers on the board at No. 17, they were kind of limited at cornerback. South Carolina’s Cam Smith and Alabama CB/S hybrid Brian Branch the only other logical secondary fits in Brooks’ exercise with Devon Witherspoon (No. 6, Lions), Christian Gonzalez (No. 7, Raiders), and Joey Porter Jr. (No. 16, Commanders) already off the board, as well as some of the big-name offensive tackles in Peter Skoronski (No. 9, Bears), Paris Johnson Jr. (No. 11, Titans), and Broderick Jones (No. 14, Patriots) selected as well.

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 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. A trio of Peterson, Banks, and Levi Wallace won’t scare anyone on paper. But all three project to fit within the Steelers’ scheme, should Banks be the guy the Steelers ultimately target.


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