Johnthan Banks is set up to have a very big year for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, if all goes well. The second-year cornerback will get some help from NFL veteran and long-time Lovie Smith assistant Gill Byrd, who's coaching the cornerbacks this year. Pewter Report talked to Byrd about what he expects out of his cornerbacks, and aside from attention to detail, he came back to production.
"Whether it is a big corner, a short corner, you are only as valuable as the plays you make," Byrd said. "The size isn't the issue. It is going out and not just being active, but being productive. A lot of guys are active. Everybody after the game is going to take a shower, they have worked up a sweat. But there will be a number of players, not as many, that you will know were productive in that game. That is what we want. Players to be productive - not just active."
The Buccaneers have repeatedly talked about the need to force turnovers, and that fits with that mantra. They want cornerbacks who can pick off passes, and who can force fumbles. In Lovie Smith's 12 years as a defensive coordinator and head coach, his teams racked up 20+ interceptions eight times. There's a reason why Charles Tillman is so revered in Chicago: turnovers.
That's probably why the Buccaneers were so keen to pick up Mike Jenkins and Alterraun Verner, and it's also why I believe Johnthan Banks has a very good chance of thriving in this system. Verner and Jenkins have both had one season with five interceptions, though they didn't manage to replicate that performance consistently. Banks managed three as a rookie, including this one, via @MaroonWyatt.
Go back to his days at Mississippi State, and he managed 15 interceptions throughout his career. His long arms and leaping ability give him the ability to sneak up under passes and pluck them out of the sky, and he has the ball skills to do that consistently.
Banks was a rookie last year, and rookie cornerbacks struggle. He got beat a bit too often on deep balls -- not a surprise given his overall lack of speed, but he had a few games where he really showed off his skills. Most notably, he held up very well against Calvin Johnson when Darrelle Revis went out with an injury. In that game, he showed the ability to play to his safety help, he showed that he understood coverage, and he showed that he had the movement skills to keep up with the game's best in the right circumstances.
Of all the players who have a chance to really break out this season, Johnthan Banks is by far the least talked about -- but he may be the most likely Buccaneer to really contribute.