Each year Carl Banks becomes more and more special.
It’s not that his impact on the Giants increases, or that he makes any more tackles or wins any more Super Bowls. That legacy is unchanged.
It’s just that each year that passes adds another to the tally of seasons since he was the team’s first-round pick in 1984. That was the last time the Giants drafted a linebacker in the first round. The streak stands at 32 years.
Will it get to 33?
Maybe not if Jarrad Davis is there waiting for them with the 23rd selection.
Davis is a speedster who can go sideline to sideline making tackles, has the athleticism to cover passes and can stick his facemask in to help against the run. The Giants haven’t had an every-down linebacker in some time, and if they select Davis, he certainly could fit that role.
“I definitely think I can do that,” Davis said. “I’m more than confident in my ability to step out and cover a receiver no matter what down it is and to stop the run on first down. . . . I’m ready for the challenge.”
The Giants don’t have an especially glaring need on defense. They have most of their key players and 10 of their 11 starters returning. Davis, though, would give them a player who can become the centerpiece of that unit for the foreseeable future. They drafted B.J. Goodson last year in the fourth round, but he’s an old-school middle linebacker. Davis is more ready for the way NFL defenses play today, which is mostly in sub packages against multiple receiver looks. Scouts compare him to Jonathan Vilma, a first-round linebacker who played in New York (just not for the Giants).
“He’s NFL-ready,” ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. said of Davis, whom he has going to the Giants in his latest mock draft. “Jarrad Davis is a heck of a football player. He’s got a great attitude, great character. He’s versatile. He’s a guaranteed first-round pick.”
Davis comes with some injury concerns, though. Ankle injuries sidelined him for parts of 2016 at Florida and held him out of drills at the Combine. But he participated in his pro day and seemed to put those issues to rest with a 4.56 40-yard dash and 38.5-inch vertical.
“The workout solidified him,” Kiper said. “He’d be a heck of a pick for the New York Giants.”
He also has a squeaky-clean character profile and a quirky personality. “I’m different from a lot of guys,” he said. “I know I’m different from a lot of guys on my former team in Gainesville, and they know that, too.”
On the field, he stands out as well.
“Football is not all I have, but I treat it like it’s all I have,” Davis said. “I treat it like it’s everything, and I feel like that separates me from a lot of guys. The way I approach the game and the way I approach my work, I feel like I separate myself from a lot of people with the way I think.”
If the Giants change the way they have drafted for more than three decades, he could wind up starting a new era for them.
Some of the defensive players the Giants could be eying in the first few rounds of the draft
Had 60 tackles and two sacks in nine games as a senior . . . His only full season as a starter was 2015 when he posted 94 tackles and 3.5 sacks in 14 games . . . His numbers at his pro day (4.56 40, 38.5 vert) would have been among the tops for LB prospects at the Combine . . . Has top-notch athletic and character resume.
A first-team All-American as a junior, posting 125 tackles, 16.5 for loss . . . Lacks dominant strength but his production speaks for itself . . . Smart, heady player who is best suited when flying around the field and not in high-traffic areas.
An athletic playmaker who defies traditional position descriptions and could be a useful weapon for a creative defensive coordinator such as Stave Spagnuolo . . . Played LB in college so can be comfortable near the line of scrimmage but lacks size to spend every down there . . . Also can return punts and kickoffs, something Giants GM Jerry Reese said he finds appealing . . . Recent red flag due to diluted urine sample from Combine drug test might sound worse than it is.
Has the size and strength to set the edge at end and then slide inside as a pass-rusher . . . Had 14.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks in 2015, 9.0 tackles for loss and 6.0 sacks in 2016 . . . A team captain who can provide leadership . . . Could be a fit for the Giants if they want to decrease the snap counts of Olivier Vernon and Jason Pierre-Paul and also have a player who can help fill in for the loss of Johnathan Hankins.
Was a 185-pound walk-on at Temple because of a high school career limited by injuries . . . Had 22.5 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks in 2016, a breakout season that propelled him from a middle round projection to a first-round prospect . . . Very athletic with a high motor, can make plays in coverage and as a pass rusher.