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Vikings Fortify Secondary With FSU CB Xavier Rhodes

Posted Apr 25, 2013

PHOTO GALLERY: Xavier Rhodes Arrives at Winter Park >>
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VIDEO: One-On-One with Xavier Rhodes >>
VIDEO: Intro Presser - "It's An Honor To Be Here" >>
VIDEO: CB Xavier Rhodes Highlights and Draft Profile >>
VIDEO: Vikings Pick Xavier Rhodes No. 25 Overall >>
PHOTO GALLERY: New Vikings CB Xavier Rhodes >>

OVERVIEW
Xavier Rhodes (pronounced "ZAY-vee-er"), a redshirt junior, started all three years he spent on the field while at Florida State, including a three-man rotation in 2011 that featured Mike Harris and Greg Reid. The Seminole is best known for his big, physical, imposing frame on the edge and willingness to press receivers in man coverage, a trait that is difficult to find at the college level. Rhodes was lucky to line up behind behind pass rushers like Brandon Jenkins, Bjoern Werner and Tank Carradine during his career, but they were equally as thankful to play with a defensive back that refused to get his opposition a sliver of separation. The imposing corner does have some injuries on record, including one to his hand after only three games in 2009 and a gruesome knee injury at the end of the 2011 that turned out to be a bad sprain.

As a redshirt freshman in 2010, Rhodes started all 14 games at the boundary corner position and registered 58 total tackles, 3.5 of which went for a loss, including two sacks. He added 12 pass breakups, including four interceptions. Rhodes was forced to play in a three-man rotation in 2011, and his numbers show it. He still went on to be credited with 43 total tackles, 1.5 went for a loss. Along with the tackle numbers, Rhodes added four pass breakups including an interception. Finally, in 2012, Rhodes regained his full-time place on the boundary side of the formation, tallying 39 total tackles, two of which went for a loss. To go along with one forced fumble, Rhodes intercepted three passes on seven pass breakups.

STRENGTHS Big frame and size for the position. Press corner that likes to have a hand on his opponent at all times. Consistently does get some kind of contact or jam when pressing, remains balanced without overextending. Contact is the arm mirroring the release side. Stays with quick twitch cuts and release with equally fast movements. Flashes strength to throw receiver to the side when wanting to get in on piles. Improved against the run as the season went along. Can really lay into a hit if it is lined up on the edge. Turns to find the football and adjusts well if in the hip pocket of a receiver downfield.

WEAKNESSES Coming off of a knee injury in 2011. Very inconsistent on runs to the empty side, loses contain, does not react quickly enough. Misses tackles when lunging at ball carriers and when leaving his feet. Hands are by his waist at the snap instead of higher to punch more quickly. Can be disinterested when play goes to different receiver he is not responsible for in man coverage, closing speed lacks urgency. Does not have experience inside as a slot corner in nickel. Performance takes a step back in zone coverage, struggles to pass off and close on receivers entering or leaving his area. Looks sluggish or tight hipped when not asked to mirror movements. Not a blitzer when path is impeded.

BOTTOM LINE Rhodes thrives in physical press coverage, something very few college players can put on their resume. At time his tackling technique is questionable, but Rhodes will make his living locking up boundary receivers with a balanced and strong jam followed up by enough speed to stick in their hip pocket. Just don't ask him to play in zone, because Rhodes shows tight movements when forced to pass receivers to a separate area. His game is somewhat scheme dependent, but expect Rhodes to be selected in the first 50 picks.

Bio from NFL.com

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