“I already knew if I made it to 25 it was gonna be the Giants,” laughed Deonte Banks less than an hour after he realized his dream to be selected in the NFL Draft. “I already knew.”
That makes one person.
While the Giants had been known to have interest in the Maryland cornerback throughout the pre-draft process, many expected the team to look to strengthen the interior of their offensive line or the wide receiver corps with their first-round pick. When no receivers had been taken before pick 20, it looked like the draft would play out that way before the winds shifted drastically and the Giants felt the need to move up one pick to land Banks.
It was a welcome move for Banks, who felt a connection to the Giants coaches in the numerous times he met them.
“They got their own unique type of character,” Banks said. “I love ’em…It just felt like it was my home when I came down…It felt like family.”
The Giants felt the connection too, and didn’t want to miss out on the chance to get a guy they felt could bring a lot to their team.
“You look a lot of the mocks,” said Giants general manager Joe Schoen when asked if he worried Banks would be taken before the Giants picked at 25th overall. “We tracked the 30 visits and the reality is that the last four or five teams in a line there when things looked like they were lining up for us, he visited a lot of those places. So you take a lot of that into account, risk versus reward. We didn’t want to get greedy, just wanted to say hey, this a player we liked, we covet. Don’t get cute, let’s just take him and we’ll move on to day two.”
Part of what the Giants covet about Banks is the physicality in his game, which he likens to current NFL cornerbacks like Jalen Ramsey and Marshon Lattimore.
“I bring a lot of physicality,” said Bank. “I’m a press-man, lockdown corner.”
He got to show off those lockdown skills in a few tough matchups this year, but perhaps none was more important than a November showdown with then-4th-ranked Ohio State, where Maryland proved feisty in a 43-30 loss.
In that game, Banks was in a battle with highly-regarded wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. and held him to 63 yards on five catches.
“I actually think it opened up a lot [of opportunities] because I played a real good game against him,” admitted Banks. “It was a big game to watch for me, from a scout’s perspective.”
It was also a big game because it showed that Banks was fully recovered from a shoulder injury suffered in the second game of the 2021 season that forced him to get season-ending surgery. A strong performance in a game against stiff competition like the Buckeyes showed that Banks could return to being the physical corner he had been before the injury.
“It was a really good year for me, personally,” said Banks. “I was real aggressive, and I played good after I got hurt, so the injury shouldn’t be no problem.”
With the injury behind him, Banks can now focus on proving that he’s ready for his next challenge:” covering NFL wide receivers.
It’s a challenge Giants head coach Brian Daboll is ready to throw at him.
“You know with us everybody’s got to earn their role,” said Daboll after the Giants made banks their first-round selection. “Come in and throw him in the mix. We think he’s a good player, obviously. We drafted him in the first round, but everybody here has to earn their role and come in here and compete.”
Banks feels that he has a good head start on that adjustment having grown up in Baltimore and watched Wink Martindale’s defense back when he was coaching for the Ravens. Add to that the extensive meetings he had with the Giants coaching staff in the offseason, and Banks feels like picking up the defense shouldn’t be a major hurdle to earning playing time.
“I’m real familiar [with the defense] actually,” claimed Banks. “They talked to me when I was down here, so I kind of got a feel for what they call, and I like. I love it actually.”
The Giants would love it if their new rookie corner could hit the ground running in the same way that last year’s New York rookie corner, Sauce Gardner did last year with the Jets.
“It’s gonna be tough,” he said about the Giants cornerback room. “We’re gonna work. We’re gonna compete…It’s gonna be fun. It’s gonna be real fun.”
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