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2023 NFL Draft

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Deonte Banks brings his 'superpower' to Wink Martindale's defense


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Deonte Banks and the Giants are just getting to know each other, but their relationship seems destined to benefit both parties.

The Giants deploy a defense designed by coordinator Wink Martindale that frequently challenges opposing wide receivers with aggressive press man coverage. That aligns perfectly with the strengths of Banks, the cornerback from the University of Maryland whom the Giants selected in the first round of the NFL Draft last night.

"I try to be aggressive, and I try to use my superpower, which is my physicality," Banks said at his introductory news conference in the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.

Before joining the Giants last year, Martindale was on the Baltimore Ravens' coaching staff for 10 years, including the last four as coordinator. Banks is a Baltimore native who had plenty of opportunities to study Martindale's defense.

"I actually watched it a lot," he said. "They send a lot of pressure and put man behind it. I like that."

View photos of the Giants' draft picks touring the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.

Banks, who prefers to be called Tae (Tay), joins a cast of cornerbacks that includes standout veteran Adoree' Jackson, as well as Cor'Dale Flott, Rodarius Williams, Nick McCloud, Darnay Holmes and Aaron Robinson.

"You can never have enough good corners," coach Brian Daboll said. "This is a passing league. We have a tough division and Tae, he's a tall, lengthy, press, man-to-man corner who we had graded high, and happy we have him."

The Giants' NFC East rivals all employ outstanding wide receivers, including Philadelphia's DeVonta Smith and A.J. Brown, Dallas' CeeDee Lamb and Washington's Terry McLaurin. In 2022, that foursome combined to catch 287 passes for 5,242 yards and 32 touchdowns.

"I think of competing," Banks said when asked his thoughts about covering the division's elite wideouts. "Competing and competing."

He does not consider himself a lockdown, No. 1 cornerback simply because he's a first-round choice.

"It's something I got to get to," he said. "I've got to get my foot in the door first."

Banks' pre-NFL career did not steadily ascend. He was a two-way player at Edgewood High School in Maryland, where he earned all-state and all-country honors. But Banks described the school in an unusual manner.

"The high school I came from, is not really a high school, like, that people know that," he said. "The teams that I've been to, I've talked to a lot of coaches and coaches still don't know the school I went to. I feel like I beat the odds."

His early college offers came from the likes of Division II Seton Hill, FCS schools Elon and Monmouth and MAC schools Buffalo and Kent State. When Maryland – the only Power 5 school to express serious interest - offered him an opportunity stay close to home and play in the Big Ten, Banks didn't hesitate.

Though others didn't project him as a future NFL player – much less a first-round draft choice – Banks was confident he would be a pro.

"One hundred percent," he said. "I was always working hard, and I always had dedication to my sport. I feel like once I put my mind to anything, I can do it. … After I signed my NLI, my national letter of intent, I felt like it was always close."

So close, yet far away. Banks played in 11 games with eight starts as a freshman in 2019. In the next two seasons combined he played in only seven games, starting five. As a junior in 2021, he started the first two games but tore his labrum and missed the remainder of the season.

"It was really tough," he said. "Football is really my happiness, so it was a real dark spot for me. … I feel like I started to really care for it (the game) more because it got taken away from me. That's not really something I wanted to happen again. I prepare more and keep my body right more."

But in typical Banks-ian fashion, he remained confident the NFL was in his future.

"Never any self-doubt," he said.

His fortunes brightened in 2022, when he played in all 12 regular-season games with eight starts before opting out of the Terrapins' appearance in the Duke's Mayo Bowl. He was named honorable mention All-Big Ten after recording career-best totals of 38 tackles (25 solo) and nine passes defensed.

The Giants were so impressed with his play they traded two draft choices, fifth and seventh-rounders, to move up one spot in the first round to secure Banks' services at No. 24.

He can't wait to get started.

"I feel like I've got a mentality just for me to try to be better at every play," Banks said.

And what is he looking forward to doing or seeing in New York?

"I'm here to play football," he said.

The relationship is off to a great start.

Step into the new draft room as the Giants make their picks for the 2023 class.


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