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Draft Analyst Argues CB Deonte Banks A Better Fit For Steelers Than Joey Porter Jr.

While there are some outlier views, which typically favor the defensive line, the two prevailing schools of thought about the Pittsburgh Steelers’ ideal position to address in the first round are those in the camp of offensive tackle and those at cornerback.

Of course, the only team that lives in an “ideal” draft world is the one that holds the first-overall pick, and that’s a tough one to earn, typically requiring a good deal of incompetence. Pittsburgh isn’t quite at that level, drafting at 17, so its conversation is driven by who may or may not be available.

At the cornerback position, virtually nobody expects either Devon Witherspoon or Christian Gonzalez to be available, but it’s rather possible that everybody else will be. While the principle name that comes up is Joey Porter Jr., one draft analyst wonders if another name might be a better fit.

In a conversation with Steelers beat writer Mike DeFabo, The Athletic draft analyst Diante Lee argues that Deonte Banks out of Maryland could make more sense for the Steelers than would Porter, adding that he personally has the two prospects ranked evenly, with a significant drop after them.

Ultimately, I think his ceiling is going to be lower than the other top corners”, Lee wrote of Porter, “and for as much one-on-one coverage as the Steelers like to play, it may make more sense to get a guy like Maryland’s Deonte Banks, who’d walk in the door ready to handle a high volume of Cover 1 and Cover 3”.

Jason La Canfora of The Washington Post reported last week that the Steelers are among the teams who “love” Banks, and it really wouldn’t be a great surprise if they drafted him. Mike Tomlin’s son, Dino, was teammates with him for three years before the latter transferred to Boston College. And Banks has elite athletic traits, which Pittsburgh has historically coveted in first-round picks outside the trenches.

Lee argues that Banks is “definitely the best fit of the second-tiered corners in this class” for the Steelers, meaning everybody behind Witherspoon and Gonzalez, noting that he “clears the necessary physical stature benchmarks. He has legitimate 4.3 speed, and it shows in game situations. His tape is full of him making plays in Cover 1 out on the sideline, and receivers don’t get behind him often”.

While Lee added that the cornerback is in need of continued refinement to cover a full route tree while aligned in man coverage, he argues that Banks has a higher ceiling than Porter. But the question is, would the Steelers have to draft Banks at 17—or more accurately, would he be gone by 32? My guess is yes, perhaps long gone.

If Pittsburgh can manage to trade back a few spots, acquire an extra draft pick somewhere (or a better pick, say, in the second round as their second selection), it might be the best of both worlds should they decide to go for the cornerback in the first round. Yet as much as they may love Banks, it’s hard to believe they would take a cornerback after the top two not named Porter if he’s still on the board.

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