The Bucs have added a lot of talent to the roster not only through their 2023 draft class, but also through their non-drafted signings. Among the most notable additions to the offense are wide receiver Kade Warner and running back Sean Tucker. But on the defensive side of the ball, inside linebacker Jeremy Banks has the most potential to make the team and play a role.
banks, a talented linebacker from Tennessee, is an intriguing player based on his ability and talent. Once considered an early Day 3 pick, he ended up not being drafted again due to an off-field issue in 2019. If that becomes just a one-time incident in college and not the NFL, Banks could be a sleeper on the defense of the Bucs and become a contributor.
Jeremy Banks’ College production should excite Bucs
Interestingly enough, Jeremy Banks didn’t start his college career as a linebacker. Instead, he entered 2018 as a freshman in 2018 as a four-star recruit at running back. In seven games that year, he had 52 carries for 185 yards and three touchdowns. Before the 2019 season, he began his conversion to linebacker, and in limited action at the position, he recorded two interceptions in a game against Chattanooga.
His sophomore year would be derailed by his resignation from the program, and he had to earn his way back. Banks decided not to switch and stuck around. Head coach Jeremy Pruitt gave him a second chance and he was reinstated. This would begin his rise in the Volunteers’ defense.
In 2020, he was a full-time linebacker and in seven games, he recorded 28 tackles. After a year under his belt to get used to the team and his new position, 2021 would be his breakthrough.
Banks would play in all 13 games and had 128 combined tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks and a 32-yard interception. He ranked seventh in the nation in tackles and had one of the best seasons at that rank in school history. He had an elite year by any standards on paper, putting him on his way to the NFL.
In 2022 he would step back from these numbers, but it was still a solid campaign. In 11 games (eight starts), he recorded 53 combined tackles and 4.5 TFLs. Some of his best games last season came against high-ranking opponents.
Of note were three games against then No. 20 Florida, No. 3 Alabama and No. 3 Georgia. Early in the season against the Gators, he scored seven tackles, a quarterback rush, and a fumble to recover. Facing the Crimson Tide a few weeks later, he recorded six tackles, but his four quarterback hurries were more impressive. Finally, in November, he recorded seven tackles, 1.5 TFLs and a pass breakup against the College Football National Champions.
What he lacked in sack production last season, he made up for by consistently going to quarterback and playing with more game recognition and a quick first step.
What are Jeremy Banks’ strengths and weaknesses?
Jeremy Banks’ production moves on to his strengths and weaknesses. Watching his highlights of arguably his best game in college will give him a good sense of his playing style and fit on the Bucs roster, whether he makes the team or the practice squad.
Against Purdue and now teammate Payne Durham in the Music City Bowl, he had 20 combined tackles in what was a 48-45 Boilermakers win. Both Bucs rookies shone in the game, as Durham had five receptions for 85 yards and two touchdowns.
Jeremy Banks strengths
A consensus assessment among draft profiles and scouting reports is that Banks is aggressive and physical in reaching the ball and finishing play. He’s athletic enough to keep up with tight ends and run backwards to center and out to the sidelines, and his ability to chase the ball carrier and take the right angle is a well-known strength.
In addition to his athleticism, he plays with an understanding of the ability to sell the blitz and fall into cover. When he goes after the quarterback, he rushes into the backfield to be a disruptor and play. In Tennessee, he was often the anchor on defense, making the calls and being in position.
Jeremy Banks’ Weak points
At 6-1, 232 pounds, Banks is probably max height and weight. The limit on his frame is not a major concern, but could lead to some mismatches.
Although he made many tackles in college, his film shows that he lacked security in reporting and did not get the quickest results to get to his assignment. It can be a learning curve for him to be able to cover, which puts a limit on his ceiling to become an all-time player.
What should Bucs expect from Jeremy Banks?
Now that his production and skills are documented, what does this mean for Jeremy Banks this season and possibly in the future? Like the plan for Jose Ramirez, most of his rookie season will be developed behind the scenes.
Making the 53-man roster to open the season isn’t inconceivable, but it would mean beating someone like KJ Britt for the fourth inside linebacker spot and playing against special teams.
Fortunately, he presents himself well as someone who can shine in special teams. He’s physical, aggressive and athletic enough to play a part in the unit, which does have some value.
With Lavonte David, Devin White and SirVocea Dennis and possibly Britt all ahead of him on the depth chart, it’s unlikely he’ll line up in Todd Bowles’ defense barring any unforeseen circumstances.
Still, the Bucs’ front office must take credit for finding another non-drafted player with a draftable mark and the knack for impressing. It’s possible that Banks could have been selected as early as round 3 if not for his off-field issues.
With David’s playing career likely to be viewed from year to year, and with White’s future with the team up in the air, Dennis and Banks could become the new inside linebacker duo from 2024 if they both get off the ground and impress make during the season. It will be interesting to follow their progress.
Like Sean Tucker, Banks chose Tampa Bay over other destinations because it has a younger and faster roster. With many guys looking to prove themselves, the Bucs may be able to make a big deposit if their investment in Banks pays off.
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