Xavier Rhodes | Cornerback | Florida State | 6'2, 217 pounds
Florida State has a long history of churning out successful NFL defensive backs. Before there was Antonio Cromartie and Patrick Robinson, Samari Rolle and Deion Sanders were dominating the NFL ranks.
Xavier Rhodes could be the next in line, as the junior has officially declared for the 2013 NFL Draft. Standing 6-feet-2-inches tall and weighing over 200 pounds, Rhodes is big for a cornerback. He started for three years in the Seminoles' secondary after redshirting his true freshman season.
Rhodes is among the best prospects in a strong cornerback class. He has a shot to be the second player at his position to come off the board in April.
Rhodes' size is obviously a huge plus. His long frame gives him added range when matching up against big deep threat receivers. Rhodes is also physical at the line of scrimmage, showing the technique and fluid hips to engage his receiver in press coverage and turn and run down the field while maintaining tight coverage.
Rhodes is a phenomenal athlete. Considering his size, he moves very well for the position. His ball skills are immediately evident when watching him. He high points the football with ease and has the leaping skills to go up and get jump balls. Rhodes also shows awareness, locating the football effectively and turning his head to make plays.
Rhodes is very smooth in his backpedal and has the closing speed to break on the ball and disrupt passing plays in all areas of the field.
Rhodes struggles in run defense. As physical as he is in press coverage, Rhodes doesn't show the same edge when he's coming up in run support. He takes spotty angles and can be inconsistent in terms of wrapping up and bringing down ball carriers.
Rhodes also doesn't possess elite short area quickness. He is a smooth athlete with fluid hips, but when matching up in the slot against some quicker receivers, he can give up a bit of separation. That's when Rhodes will surrender completions.
Conclusion: Xavier Rhodes should come off the board in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft. He's going to be best suited lining up in press-man coverage. He's got all of the physical tools to be a very effective cornerback in the NFL. If he can continue to stay healthy and improve his play recognition, Rhodes could end up being the best cornerback in this class. He has true shutdown potential.
Pro comparison: Lardarius Webb, Baltimore Ravens
In terms of physicality and an ability to dominate receivers in press coverage, Rhodes and Webb are similar. Rhodes is actually even bigger than Webb and brings even more physicality to the game at times. Webb is probably a bit more impressive in terms of his short area quickness, but it wouldn't surprise me to see Rhodes develop into a similar player.
Video from Draftbreakdown.com: