Draft King Analysis|
October 8, 2012
Lou Pickney, DraftKing.com
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Over the past two weekends I've had the pleasure of seeing two of the best defensive backs in college football play: Florida State's Xavier Rhodes the weekend before last at USF and Mississippi State's Johnthan Banks this past Saturday at Kentucky. To put it mildly, both are outstanding players who, while playing with different styles, make a dramatic impact for their respective teams.
Rhodes I knew about from last year, where he managed to neutralize Michael Floyd in the 2011 Champs Sports Bowl before leaving the game with an injury. Floyd, who had been kept in check to that point, suddenly came alive. The difference was remarkable. As for Banks, I've known about him since his memorable 100 yard pick-six game against Tim Tebow and the Urban Meyer era Florida Gators... as a true freshman playing free safety.
USF didn't have any wide receivers anywhere near to Floyd's talent level, but that didn't prevent Rhodes from being able to make a notable impression. He played physical at the line with his 6'2" 215 pound frame, bumping whichever receiver he happened to be matched up against. South Florida rarely threw in his direction, and the one time they really challenged Rhodes he picked off the pass. He didn't shy from contact and he looks to have the potential to be an outstanding player at the NFL level with his mix of cover corner skill and size.
Johnthan Banks is one-half of a corner duo with fellow CB Darius Slay titled Precinct 913, which sounds more like the title of yet another network cop show that would pale in comparison with The Wire than it does a cornerback duo (it's a play off their jersey numbers: 9 for Slay and 13 for Banks). But, while Slay is talented, make no mistake: Banks is the star of the show.
Against the Wildcats, it was a challenge to get a true bearing for Banks' cover skills as Kentucky simply never threw in his direction. Remember how Nnamdi Asomugha didn't have a single interception for Oakland in 2010 because teams only threw at him 27 times all season? It was that sort of thing this past Saturday -- and, really, it was in Kentucky's best interest to not throw in his direction.
But despite receiving the "don't throw at him" treatment, Banks impressed me with how he played the run. He showed great instincts and ability to read plays, and while he's roughly 30 pounds lighter than Rhodes (both are listed at 6'2"), he showed zero trepidation about going for the tackle.
One other thing with Banks: he's a good leader. Early on it was 7-0 Mississippi State and the defense was playing strong, but that didn't stop Banks from going from one teammate to the next on the bench, making sure they stayed fired up and intense. It had a positive effect -- you could see it in the body language of the guys he was firing up on the sidelines.
The highest touted draft-eligible cornerback coming into this season, NC State's David Amerson, has been exposed multiple times for not having the shutdown corner skills that some (including me) presumed he had with his FBS-best interception numbers from last season. When I update the 2013 NFL Mock Draft on here, Amerson won't be in the newest first round projection.
For my money, Rhodes and Banks are the best of the bunch. And, while it was happenstance that I was able to see them play in person on back-to-back weekends, they both delivered the goods and showed impressive ability that should be able to translate well at the next level.