As we head toward the NFL Draft in April, Warchant will take a look at the notable seniors (or draft-declared underclassmen) who train their eye toward the professional ranks. As the process moves along, these stock reports will feature updates. Next up in this series, Xavier Rhodes.
Weight: 217 pounds.
2012 Stats: 14 games played, 39 tackles (27 solo), 2.0 TFL, 3 interceptions and 10 passes defended
Career Stats: 48 games played, 140 tackles (112 solo), 7.0 tackles for loss, 8 interceptions and 16 passes defended
NFL Draft projections: CBS NFL Draft Scout - No.19 player overall, No. 2 CB, 1st round. ESPN - No. 7 CB, 3rd round.
Overview: Were it not for a knee injury suffered against Notre Dame in the Champs Sports Bowl last season, Rhodes would already be playing on Sundays. The injury however forced Rhodes to return for his redshirt junior season to prove to scouts that he was fully healthy.
For the third straight season the Miami native was without a doubt the Seminoles best cornerback. Teams mostly stayed away from Rhodes this season, but he still was tied for the team-lead in interceptions with three. While ESPN/Scouts Inc. have cooled on Rhodes, NFLDraftscout.com still projects him as a first round pick, including as high as No. 13 overall in one mock draft.
Rhodes' size is his biggest attribute as a corner. He has tremendous reach and his long arms make it very hard for receivers to get off the line against him. After being named ACC Defensive Rookie of the year in 2010 teams rarely tested Rhodes, but when they did he made the most of his chances.
With his size and physicality he is also a tremendous assets in run support on top of his cover skills.
Weaknesses: Durability is a big question mark for Rhodes. He missed all of the 2009 season with a thumb injury, then was slowed by a hip pointer at times in 2011 before suffering knee injury in the bowl game. Rhodes went down more than a few times during games this season, but never missed a game. His durability issues could be the only thing that keeps him out of the first round.
Where does he fit in the NFL?
Rhodes has certainly shown he has the cover skills to play corner at the next level. Most believe this is where he will play, but with his size Rhodes also has the ability to play strong safety. Ultimately, we believe Rhodes will be an NFL cornerback.
Over the next three months, he'll look to show/improve
The one thing that Rhodes has never shown in his career is top-end speed. Teams will want to see that explosive burst expected of defensive backs at Pro Day. Rhodes also will need to have a good showing in agility drills. He will win team's over with his knowledge of the game and physical play. While he hardly gave up big plays, he could do a lot to improve his draft stock if he's able to post a sub-4.5 40-yard dash time.
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