6'2, 217 pounds | Cornerback | Florida State
First word: As they are every preseason, expectations are high for Florida State. On defense, in particular, a big season is expected from junior cornerback Xavier Rhodes. In FSU's bowl game, he was closing out a solid season by handing Notre Dame's Michael Floyd in the Champs Sports Bowl before getting injured. Rhodes' can handle bigger receivers like Floyd because his game is centered around physical play. He finished 2011 with 43 tackles (36 solo), five passes defended and an interception. Rhodes strongly considered entering the draft following his redshirt sophomore season, but wisely chose to come back to school. Now he's on the watch lists for the Bednarik and Thorpe awards and the Nagurski Trophy.
Games watched: Clemson, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Miami, Florida
- Possesses plus athleticism for a bigger defensive back. Impressive vertical leap. Receiver won't simply be able to come over the top in jump ball situations against Rhodes.
- Rhodes has the agility to change direction immediately to adjust to a route and make a play on the ball.
- Plays physical on the boundary. Gets a good jam at the line of scrimmage to disrupt timing on routes. Very good tackler for a corner. Can lay a big hit.
- A converted wide receiver, Rhodes' hands are often underrated. He may have only had one interception in 2011, but he had four in 2010 when he was named a freshman All-American.
- Has a big, tall frame and looks like he could add even more strength.
- Still improving on his technique. When Rhodes transitions out of his backpedal, he has a tendency to get upright and lose a step.
- Doesn't have great speed and can get beaten over the top on vertical routes.
- Has reportedly had issues in the past with his attitude and work ethic.
- Missed spring practice with a knee injury. Limited in practices in 2011 due to injury. Took a medical redshirt in 2009.