Both times I’ve written about Redskins undrafted rookie Brandon Banks, I’ve focused on how undersized he is. And I’m not the first. Banks is listed at 5’7″, 150 pounds — and possibly exaggerated in both categories — so it’s been something that he’s been judged by for much of his life.
So of course when I had a chance to talk to him today, after a solid OTA that included the leaping catch pictured above (click the photo to see a larger version), the first question I asked him was if he would be able to crack a pro roster despite concerns about his size.
“We’re gonna see,” he says, grinning. “I’m gonna go out there and give it my best shot. I mean, there’s guys who did it before, like Darren Sproles, Wes Welker … I’m just gonna go out there and play my game like I’ve been playing it. It’s the reason why I’m here.”
Sproles is listed at 5’6″ (an inch shorter than Banks), but a full 35 pounds heavier (185). Welker lists at 5’9″, 185. So even those two guys — both viewed as small for the NFL — are notably bulkier than Banks. Redskins wide receiver Santana Moss is listed at 5’9″, 200 pounds, and in comparison to Banks … well, a picture says more than my babbling, right?
There’s another tie between Banks and Sproles besides stature: both played college ball a Kansas State, and Sproles has been giving Banks a little guidance in breaking into the NFL with what’s viewed as less-than-ideal height.
“‘We’re always gonna be the underdogs,’ he said, ‘and you know that,’” Banks tells me. “He told me to just go out there, keep playing hard, use my speed and use my talent like I know I can.”
Special teams coach Danny Smith has also given Banks similar advice. “He just told me to keep working hard,” Banks says, “and hope I can pop one in the preseason.” By pop one, Banks means take a kick or punt back for a touchdown, and the reason Smith is hopeful that Banks can do that is because of his speed. Word in the building is that Banks’s two timed 40-yard dashes here were both under 4.4, by at least a few
tenths hundredths of a second.
Banks, though, doesn’t see himself purely as a speed guy. “I’ve got a big heart,” he says. “I like to go over the middle, I can play in the trenches with the big guys.”
He showed his ability to go up and get a high pass with the jumping catch pictured up top, and says that his jumping ability means that he can play much taller than his listed height. “Oh, absolutely,” Banks says. “I can dunk a basketball like that.”
Banks maximized his abilities in college, to the tune of 123 catches for 1,754 yards and 10 touchdowns, with another 1,600+ yards and 5 touchdowns in kick returns. And his hope is to bring that level of speed and production to the NFL, where he swears that the only difference he sees is that he spends more time at the facility.
“Football’s football to me,” Banks says. “I’m just having fun, really.”
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