The New York Giants can save over $9 million on their 2013 salary cap if Corey Webster is released. Webster was a liability in pass coverage for the majority of 2012 and in no way earned his salary. For the Giants to get as far under the salary cap as possible before the inception of free agency on March 12th, Webster's contract must either be significantly restructured, or off the books entirely. However, in order to release Webster, the Giants need a replacement. Cornerback is a vital position that if not treated carefully can irreparably handicap a defense. Although Dee Millner will likely be off the board by the time the Giants pick in the 2013 draft, Jonhthan Banks out of Mississippi State could be a viable option for Big Blue.
Banks is a big, physical cornerback with 4.5 speed. He has trouble changing direction and staying with smaller wide receivers, so he is strictly and outside cornerback. He's not a guy who would be effective in the slot. If he can learn how to use his long arms to his advantage, he would be a weapon against some the bigger, more physical wideouts in the NFL.
Versatility is also a positive for Banks. He is exceptional in run support, has great size at 6'2 and 185 pounds and above average instincts. He has all the skills to play safety, which is another position the Giants will need help at with the impending departure of Kenny Phillips this offseason. Additionally, Banks took three of his 12 punt return opportunities to the end-zone for touchdowns in his college career. He has value in several aspects of the game which will undoubtedly make him an attractive option for Jerry Reese and Co.
However, Banks is probably not ready to step in and immediately take the reigns as a starting cornerback. Unless he is pressed up in man coverage, Banks is going to give up completions on a fairly regular basis in the NFL. He lacks explosiveness to break on the ball, which does not fit well with Perry Fewell's Tampa-Two scheme.
Another issues with Banks is that he will likely not present the best value at No. 19. At that position in the draft, there will may be several pass rushers, offensive linemen or linebackers with higher upside and NFL readiness than Banks. Lane Johnson, Alec Ogletree, Ezekiel Ansah, Manti Te'o and even Zach Ertz could still be on the board when Big Blue's selection comes around. Each of those players could fill another serious need for the Giants, perhaps more significant than Banks is capable of.
Banks won the Thorpe Award in 2013, which is an honor bestowed upon the best defensive back in the game. He's an athletic specimen with great instincts. Although he is versatile in terms of position, he is not versatile in style of play. Whoever drafts him will have a ton of potential on their hands, but Banks, like nearly every other rookie, will need to be coached up not only on how to play in the NFL, but how to play within the confines of the Giants defense.
If Banks is selected, look for the Giants to find a mid-level, stop-gap free-agent replacement for Corey Webster this offseason. Banks would see significant playing time in a variety of roles, but as we saw with Prince Amukamara, it's incredibly difficult to play defensive back as a rookie. It's not unusual for the Giants to give their rookies a "red-shirt" year; and Banks would be a prime candidate to receive the same treatment. If he has a good combine and presents the best value at No. 19, Jerry Reese will pull the trigger. If not, be sure to look for the Giants to take a cornerback in the second or third round.
Also…Alec Ogletree, Corey Webster, Ezekiel Ansah, Football, Jerry Reese, Kenny Phillips, Lane Johnson, mississippi state, New York, New York Giants, NFL, Perry Fewell, Prince Amukamara, Zach Ertz
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