Kevin Jairaj-US PRESSWIRE
Now that the East-West Shrine Bowl game is behind us, we can begin to focus on the more highly regarded prospects of the Senior Bowl. To be sure, there is much more riding on the evaluation of these players because they will mostly be chosen in the early rounds of the 2013 NFL Draft, and we all understand the financial ramifications involved with making these risky decisions. Today I will be shining the spotlight on a trio of exciting prospects who might already be on the Panthers' radar.
CB Johnthan Banks 6'2" 185 lbs Mississippi St.
-2012 AP 2nd Team All-American
-2012 Walter Camp 1st Team All-American
-2012 1st Team All-SEC
-Great size and length
-Elite run defender
-Consistently looks to force fumbles
-Defends taller receivers very well
-Covers fade patterns with ease
-Above-average instincts and ball skills
-Doesn't defend smaller receivers as well as the bigger ones
-Excels when blitzing
-Good at making open field tackles and limiting yards after the catch
Banks has gained a ton of quality experience throughout his 4-year career in the SEC. Not only has he lined up against such standouts as Julio Jones, Alshon Jeffrey, Cordarrelle Patterson, and Justin Hunter, but he's also played a significant role in limiting those very same receivers.
One of the most interesting details I gained from watching him on tape is the fact that many of his 16 career interceptions came off of tipped and/or inaccurate passes while defending in zone coverage. This detail certainly shouldn't count against him. As a matter of fact, it effectively demonstrates how well he operates in space, and is also indicative of his instinctual ability to be in the right place at the right time.
Presently, Banks lacks top-notch man coverage ability, but he isn't completely incompetent when pressing receivers either. In all actuality, he was rarely asked to play tight man coverage. I'm not quite sure whether this was a reflection of his coach's defensive philosophy or an indictment of Banks' man to man inadequacies. My own speculation leads me to believe the latter because a true lock-down cornerback works well in any defensive scheme.
Ultimately, Banks is a serious contender to be drafted in the top half of the first round, and I won't be surprised if he gets a long, hard look from the Panthers at 14, especially considering the plausible likelihood that they will release Gamble as a cap casualty. Personally, I believe the Panthers would be better served to wait until the second round because this draft is particularly stacked with gifted corners who compare favorably to Banks. Maybe our next prospect will do.
CB Johnthan Banks Career Stats
CB Will Davis 6'0" 192 lbs Utah St
-1st Team All-WAC
-Former JUCO transfer
-Specializes in man coverage
-Solid run defender
-Superb ball skills
-Above-average cornerback size
-Led the nation in passes defended(17 PBU- Passes Broken Up + 5 INT = 22 total)
-Intercepted a pass in five straight games during senior season
From a national perspective, Davis came out of nowhere this season. In fact, you would have been hard pressed to find him on any early 2013 draft board, even in the later rounds. Even more unlikely is the circumstances that led to where he is today.
In order to avoid the shadow of his older brother's success on the basketball court, Davis decided to see what he could accomplish for himself on the football field in his final year of high school. It proved to be a wise decision because he was able to impress tiny Division II Western Washington enough to offer him a scholarship. However, the University decided to disband its football program only a year after he arrived. Davis then spent the following year at a junior college, where he starred for one season, and that was all it took for Utah State(coach Gary Anderson) to offer him a scholarship.
Davis' junior season at Utah State went by fairly inconspicuously because he was only able to earn playing time as a role player. Nevertheless, that would all change this past season when, as a senior, he was given the position of full-time starter, and he didn't waste his opportunity. Throughout the season, Davis was repeatedly left on an island against the opposition's best receivers, and he proved he was more than capable of shutting down his side of the field. This is a testament to not only his natural abilities, but more importantly, his diligent dedication to becoming the best he could possibly be. We could all learn something from Davis' story.
My personal opinion of Davis is high enough for me to tell you that I would love to see him still available with our lone second round pick. I would take him in a heartbeat because I believe his potential as a quality starting #1 cornerback at the professional level is through the roof. If you were able to ascertain from Davis' story how little he's actually seen the field thus far in his young football career, then maybe you can agree with me that the future looks awfully bright for this young man. Perhaps his promising potential would serve him well in a Panthers' uniform. What say you?
CB Will Davis Career Stats
WR Quinton Patton 6'2" 195 lbs Louisiana Tech
-2011, 2012 1st Team All-WAC
-Lacks elite speed
-Explosive playmaker, who can also return kick
-Outstanding route runner
-Very reliable hands
-Makes tough catches in traffic
-Elusive in the open field
-Physicality and quick burst off the line allows him to regularly beat press man coverage
-Displays deceptive strength while breaking away from would-be tacklers
Honestly, I don't have enough good things to say about Quinton Patton. Like the aforementioned CB Will Davis, he is another JUCO transfer who has made the most of his limited opportunities. As a matter of fact, Patton and Davis went one on one this past season(see video), and it was an epic battle. Patton ended up with 11 receptions for 181 yards, however, to be fair, many of those yards were accumulated against Davis' teammates.
One more match-up of note occurred in 2011 when, as a junior, Patton faced off against likely 1st round draft pick, Johnthan Banks(see above). He managed to catch 11 passes for 87 yards and a touchdown in that game, but as solid as those stats were, they didn't compare to the praise he received from one of the best scouts available, Banks himself:
"Quinton Patton is the best receiver I've played against since I've been here. I've gone against some good ones in the SEC, too, but he's probably the most complete." Johnthan Banks
This is the same cornerback who fared extremely well when lining up across from the best receivers the SEC had to offer. If Banks' word isn't enough to convince you, then maybe your truth serum is found in the stat sheet. If so, look no further than the breakdown of his individual performances in each of his games at Louisiana Tech(listed in the charts below). The most eye-popping statistical achievement of last season had to be his other-worldly 21 catch, 233 yard, 4 touchdown performance against Texas A&M, but his best overall game may very well have come against CB Terry Hawthorne(3rd to 5th round pick) and the 19th ranked Illinois pass defense in week three on the road(6 receptions, 164 yards, 2 touchdowns). If you still aren't convinced, then I advise you to watch the film because the tape doesn''t lie(see below).
If Patton happens to be available in the 2nd round, we should strongly consider taking him because he has the potential to replace Smitty as our #1 receiver in a couple of years. What about you? What do you think about Patton? Davis? Banks? Be sure to let the world know what you think in the poll and the comment thread that follows.
WR Quinton Patton's Career Stats
Patton's 2011 Stats
|Road||# 20 Southern Miss||5||95||19||0|
|Home||San Jose St||5||116||23.2||2|
|Home||New Mexico St||3||54||18||0|
Patton's 2012 Stats
|Road||New Mexico St||6||42||7||0|
|Neutral||San Jose St||10||125||12.5||2|
Which of these prospects, respective to their talent and current draft position, do you like the most?
CB Johnthan Banks in the 1st (57 votes)
CB Will Davis in the 2nd round (64 votes)
WR Quinton Patton in the 2nd round (142 votes)
263 total votes