EAGAN, Minn. — Xavier Rhodes has joined the NFL’s upper echelon of cornerbacks.
A First-Team All-Pro as a cornerback and Second-Team defensive back in 2017, Rhodes has progressed impressively since 2013 when he was a rookie first-round pick.
Now, he’s right in the middle of the pack in the Vikings defensive backs room — at least in age.
At one end of the spectrum is Terence Newman, who will be 40 by the start of the season. At the other, 2018 first-round pick Mike Hughes and undrafted rookie Holton Hill, who are both 21.
Rhodes has found himself turning into a resource for younger players. He also answered questions about both first-year players after Minnesota’s first full-team practice of Verizon Vikings Training Camp at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center.
“Today, [Hughes is] looking awesome coming out of his breaks, getting low, transitioning his weight, keeping his eyes on his man,” Rhodes said. “To me, he looked awesome. He didn’t look like a rookie today.
As for Hill, “Holton is good, a great guy, chip on his shoulder.”
“He’s hungry. He pulled me to the side last night to ask me questions,” Rhodes added. “That’s the type of guy you want on this team, one who is willing to learn and can do whatever it takes to be the best. I can see it in his eyes.”
Rhodes is now comfortable explaining how to fix mistakes, reminding rookies of the rule changes from college to the pros that reduce the amount of contact allowed, explaining concepts and stressing the importance of keeping eyes on receivers instead of quarterbacks.
“It’s new. I still feel young, though,” he said with a laugh.
Rhodes also was asked about any potential lingering effects from the way that the 2017 season ended.
Minnesota finished the regular season ranked No. 1 in points allowed and yards allowed and with 13 wins, the second-most in franchise history.
The Vikings then triumphed over the Saints on the final play of the first postseason game at U.S. Bank Stadium before a disappointing showing in the NFC Championship Game at Philadelphia and coming one win shy of playing in Super Bowl LII.
Water under the bridge, Rhodes said.
“We got over last season [during] the first break of the offseason,” Rhodes said. “We were on to the next season of trying to get better, learn from our mistakes and stuff like that and try to make it to that situation next year and go to the Super Bowl.
“It’s a brand new season, a brand new thing,” Rhodes added. “One thing about it, if you linger on last year, it becomes worse. That’s anything in life, personally. If the past bothers you, it’s going to mess up the future.”