Where there’s smoke, there’s fire, and as of late when it comes to national draft analysts, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Maryland cornerback Deonte Banks are starting to heat up.
Draft analysts such as ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. and NFL Network’s Bucky Brooks have paired Banks with the Steelers in recent weeks. That connection continued Tuesday. NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein, whose father Larry was an offensive line coach in Pittsburgh from 2007-09, paired the Steelers with Banks at No. 17 overall in his latest mock draft.
“Banks should come in and compete for a starting spot,” Zierlein writes. “A bonus is that he can learn under the guidance of a player who boasted similar athletic talent when he entered the NFL in 2011: Patrick Peterson.”
In Zierlein’s mock, he has the Steelers passing on the likes of Penn State’s Joey Porter Jr. and Alabama’s Brian Branch at defensive back to select Banks. Porter Jr. and Branch don’t come off the board until No. 24 to Jacksonville (Porter Jr.) and No. 25 to the New York Giants (Branch).
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 interceptions 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 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.
It is worth noting though that the Steelers did not have Omar Khan or Mike Tomlin at Maryland Pro Day last week and weren’t heavily represented there. That means — at least based on history — that Banks is less likely to be the target at No. 17 overall.
Still, there is certainly a strong connection there with his talents and a potential fit within the Steelers’ scheme as that long, physical press cornerback that can shut down one side of the field at the next level. The lack of overall production is a bit of a concern, but the athletic traits are very, very intriguing as Banks continues to generate more and more first-round buzz.