The Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost their pattern but not their momentum as they closed in on getting their entire 2013 draft class under contract.
On Thursday, the team announced that it has signed second-round cornerback Johnthan Banks to a four-year deal, leaving the team with only one unsigned player. A deal for third-round quarterback Mike Glennon would complete the process of inking the Bucs' six-man 2013 draft class.
The Buccaneers got four of the six necessary deals done last week, walking it backward from sixth-round pick Mike James through fourth-round pick Akeem Spence. Banks' deal temporarily skips Glennon but signals that the team will probably once again have all of its rookies on hand for training camp. Tampa Bay has not had an extended rookie holdout since Trent Dilfer in 1994, and the most recent collective bargaining agreement has made the process of signing draftees much less complicated.
Having taken care of the most pressing business matter of his entry into the NFL, Banks can now concentrate on the field, and on the very real possibility of winning a starting job as a rookie. Tampa Bay's completely revamped secondary already includes a new starting safety in Dashon Goldson and a new starting left cornerback in Darrelle Revis, and now Banks will have the opportunity to carve out a significant role in that crew, as well.
Over four seasons at Mississippi State, Banks started 45 of 51 games, including all 38 over the last three years, and finished with a school-record 16 interceptions. He also racked up 221 tackles, five forced fumbles, 26 passes defensed, 11.5 tackles for loss and 4.0 sacks and was respected enough by his teammates to be chosen as a team captain.
The Thorpe Award winner as the nation's top defensive back in 2012, Banks (6-2, 185) was the first Mississippi State player ever to win an individual NCAA national award. He was an SEC All-Freshman pick in 2009, helped by a pair of interception-return touchdowns against Florida's Tim Tebow. He ended up starting seven games that season at free safety before moving to cornerback and starting 12 games as a sophomore in 2010. He was an AP All-SEC second-team selection as a junior in 2011 and, after choosing to return for his senior season rather than enter the draft, he moved up to first team in 2012 as well as the Thorpe Award winner. Banks intercepted at least three passes in all four of his collegiate seasons and had at least 50 tackles in each of the last three.