Daniel Jones and his receivers have been giving the New York Giants’ top rookie a rough introduction to life in the NFL. Cornerback Deonte Banks, the 24th player selected in this year’s draft, has been “struggling” through the first two days of the team’s training camp.
Jones “picked on” Banks “a bit” on Day 1, according to Dan Duggan of The Athletic. Duggan described one instance involving wide receiver Isaiah Hodgins “toasting the first-round pick with a whip route for a touchdown.”
Video of the scoring play was tweeted by Bobby Skinner of Talkin’ Giants on July 26.
Skinner also noted how Banks was still “struggling at release” the next day. Those struggles were exploited by backup wideout Collin Johnson, who got the better of Banks “twice in the 1-on-1’s,” per Duggan.
Duggan’s reference to Banks’ missing “a jam on a fade” has worrying implications for the type of coverage schemes the first-year defensive back will be asked to execute under Giants defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale.
Giants Need Top Rookie to Get Up to Speed
Banks hasn’t got the luxury of a steep learning curve. Not when he’s being counted on to shore up a secondary that surrendered 21 touchdown passes last season.
The former Maryland standout is seen as a perfect fit for Martindale’s system. It’s an aggressive scheme tethered to frequent blitzing and a heavy diet of man coverage calling for cornerbacks to lock up receivers in one-on-one matchups.
Martindale was visibly excited by the scheme fit, rejoicing with general manager Joe Schoen when Banks’ name was called on draft day.
Martindale’s excitement appeared justified based on some of the scouting takes on Banks ahead of the draft. A report from Dane Brugler for The Athletic described Banks as a “cover-and-clobber corner” with “the competitive makeup and smooth hips/feet to become a receiver’s shadow in man coverage.”
Those traits haven’t shown up so far at camp, with Banks yet to display the overt physicality the Giants need for press coverage. He couldn’t slow down Johnson, who left the first-rounder trailing in the back of the end zone at the end of a 1-on-1 drill, per NorthJersey.com’s Art Stapleton.
Banks is finding out the hard way about the differences between playing at the pro level and dominating the collegiate game. Yet, while he hasn’t made the instantly positive impression the Giants might have hoped for, there are reasons for those connected with the franchise to be upbeat about the rookie.
Tough Start Can Motivate Key Starter
For all his struggles, it’s important to remember Banks is only 22. He’s still learning the craft, with ample time to grow into the physical and mental requirements of covering NFL receivers.
There’s also merit to the idea that a tough start is the best way for a rookie to learn the ropes. Early struggles could sharpen the focus for a player expected to start in his first year.
Provided Banks uses any early negative plays as lessons and motivation to get better, the Giants could be able to count on him eventually developing into a solid NFL corner. After all, this is a player who gave up more than 50 yards just once during his career with the Terps, according to PFF College.
That’s an indicator of a true shutdown cornerback, and Banks has taken only his first steps toward becoming one of those at a higher level.