Pair of Maryland football cornerbacks shine at NFL Combine

On day two of the 2023 NFL Combine, Maryland fans watched a pair of former players keep up the annual tradition of Terps shining on the big stage.

Cornerback Deonte Banks entered the day with day one buzz while cornerback Jakorian Bennett has steadily risen on draft boards, but on Friday, they both turned heads.

Banks finished tied for third in the 40-yard dash and finished with an official 4.35. He posted 42 inches on the vertical, which was the highest among corners and the sixth-best since 2006. His 11’4” broad jump was second highest among corners this year and third-best of all time.

Bennett was right after Banks, and he ran the second fastest 40 times among corners, clocking in at 4.3. Bennett held the top spot until Michigan cornerback DJ Turner ran an official 4.26, but Bennett wasn’t done there. He also had the fourth-best vertical and broad jump among corners jumping 40.5” and 11’1”, respectively.

The two also did well on the on-field drills. Both looked smooth changing direction and cutting and caught the ball well. Banks had to make a tough low catch during the gauntlet drill.

The two athletic cornerbacks were the undoubted standouts of day two and it turned out, the stats proved that too. NextGenStats had Banks and Bennett one and two, respectively, on the cornerback athleticism score, pending the shuttle numbers. Coming into today, Banks was 42nd on Daniel Jeremiah’s top 50 prospects but both now have a chance to elevate themselves.

Banks was drawing late first round buzz among mock drafts heading into March, but the interest in the Edgewood native isn’t new. Considered an underrated commitment by former assistant Aazaar Abdul-Rahim during the final cycle of the Durkin era, Banks signed with Maryland and developed under the Locksley regime. Banks drew interest from NFL scouts heading into the 2021 season, a year where he saw his season cut short due to injury. The veteran returned in 2022 to lead an experienced cornerback room, but it was Banks’ athleticism that NFL scouts always salivated over.

Bennett, meanwhile, signed with Maryland out of Hutchinson C.C. and became an instant addition to a defense in need of an experienced cornerback. Appearing in all but one of his 26 games through his two seasons, Bennett anchored a secondary that routinely went up against NFL talent. In 2021, Bennett led all Power Five players with 16 pass breakups, the most by a Terp since Dominique Foxworth had 22 in 2003. Bennett returned in 2022 and finished tied for third in the Big Ten in pass breakups (11) and tied for fifth in passes defended (13). He ended his career with the game-sealing interception against NC State in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl.

Elsewhere, the two defensive backs weren’t the only Terps in action with kicker Chad Ryland out there. Though like most kickers, Ryland didn’t go through drills but said during interviews that the Packers were among the teams showing interest.

The wide receivers are up next with Jacob Copeland, Rakim Jarrett and Dontay Demus in action on Saturday. Jaelyn Duncan will suit up with the offensive linemen on Sunday.

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