Notre Dame seems to produce NFL-caliber offensive linemen every year and offensive guard Aaron Banks appears to be the next in line to follow in the footsteps of players such as Quenton Nelson and Zack Martin. The California native was a four-star tackle recruit out of high school who drew interest from programs all over the country. He chose to commit to Notre Dame over Michigan and Oregon.
Redshirting as a freshman, Banks took over as a starter at left guard midway through his freshman season and never gave his starting role back. He helped lead the Fighting Irish to a playoff berth in 2020 and was rewarded for his outstanding play by being named to the All-ACC first team as well as some All-America teams. Banks also received an invite to the 2021 Reese’s Senior Bowl and will put his skills on display this week in Mobile.
The two and a half year starter has excellent size and length for the position at 6-foot-5 and 325 pounds. His frame helps him in pass protection, where he excels the most. Banks plays with clean feet to gain depth without impacting his balance in pass sets, as well as mirror opposing rushers when they try to get to his shoulder.
Heavy hands and wide play allows him to lock up would-be rushers when he is able to land them; defenders are rarely able to disengage later in reps. Banks possesses pop in his hands and resets and replaces like clockwork, allowing him to control blocks.
When he locks out his arms, he prevents opponents from getting into his frame if they do not possess the length that he does, shutting down power rushes. Even when his punch misses, he stays on balance and recovers without lunging. His anchor is reliable as he can surrender some initial space to stay on balance but digs in with his feet and extends to prevent defenders from resetting the line of scrimmage.
Banks has the flexibility to adjust to rushers at his shoulder, shooting his hands and driving his legs to redirect them around the passer. An intelligent lineman, he plays alert, passing off stunts and absorbing blitzing linebackers from the second level. Here he can get forced back a couple of steps but does not get blown up. When he has nobody to block, he finds work, helping out his teammates with pop in his hands. In the run game, he puts his core strength on display, twisting defensive linemen and moving them out of gaps with his leg drive.
Banks is stout at the line of scrimmage, getting a push up front in obvious running situations and not allowing penetration on the inside. While he is not the most explosive athlete, he gets out of his stance quickly, allowing him to reach and seal the nose tackle from his left guard position.
His fluid hips help him to flip around and seal run lanes as well as shuffle his feet around while already engaged with the defender, creating better blocking angles for himself. On combo blocks, he uses his powerful punch, assisting his teammate in sealing the lane before climbing up to the second level. Banks’ active feet and balance allow him to stay attached to blocks when moving with defenders laterally on zone concepts.
At times he gets too aggressive looking to finish blocks, allowing opponents to disengage to one side, as he stops playing wide. While he is usually very balanced he plays over his toes in pass protection occasionally making him susceptible to getting pulled by defenders. At the second level or in space he is not the most nimble, looking slow and getting grabby as he struggles to adjust to smaller defenders.
Watch him mirror the rusher against Clemson before extending and anchoring to shut the rush down:
Here the rusher is able to lift Banks’ hands but the guard stays on balance and recovers successfully, keeping the pocket clean:
He passes off stunts with ease thanks to his length, hands and lateral agility:
Banks dishes out pancakes as a pass protector displaying the pop he has in his hands:
As a run blocker, he uses his leg drive to finish blocks:
This play goes nowhere because of a fumbled snap but watch Banks get out of his stance and reach the nose tackle:
Here he gets to the inside of the three-technique and seals off the run lane:
His deficiencies in space are apparent on this play as he grabs the linebacker and gets called for a penalty:
A plug-and-play starter, Banks projects as a starter at guard in week one of the 2021 NFL season. His pass protection will help secure the inside of a line early on and he will add value as a run blocker with his power. Teams that deploy running schemes that require nimble linemen in space will not value him highly as he is best in condensed space, winning in a phone booth.
Scouting Lenz Value: 2nd Round Pick