The Miami Dolphins have been very busy so far this off-season. They have been filling needs since the moment free agency began and they still have several players on their radar. With each free agent signing, the Dolphins’ draft needs become more clear, and Xavier Rhodes may be just the player they need to fill out a promising roster.
The Dolphins are sure to sign a cornerback or two and add depth to the defensive secondary, but it is in the 2013 NFL Draft where the Dolphins will look to find the future of the franchise. With the 12th pick in April’s draft and 11 picks in all, Miami could trade up, trade back or stand pat depending on what need they feel they need to fill first. Chances are, Rhodes could be their guy if they elect to stay in the 12th spot.
Ranked as the No. 2 corner in the nation, Rhodes is an aggressive young talent with excellent ball skills. He is extremely physical, getting up on a receiver coming off the line, and making it tough down the field. At 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds, Rhodes has the strength to battle with the bigger receivers in the league, an attribute that is at a premium in the NFL right now.
Rhodes plays the ball very well and is willing to take chances to make a play. There is always a bit of risk involved when a corner plays the ball instead of the receiver, but Rhodes has great instincts and will quickly gain the trust of his coaching staff. He has great leaping ability and locates the ball extremely well. He is also very good against the run, has great block-shedding ability and can deliver punishing blows to opposing ball carriers.
His physicality is a welcomed quality, but it can also cause him trouble with the guys in stripes, and he will need to learn to play with his body off of the receiver if he wants to avoid penalty problems. It is a negative that he will be able to correct as he gains NFL experience.
Rhodes was very efficient at the combine, running just a 10th of a second slower than the draft’s top-ranked cornerback, Dee Milliner. Rhodes out-performed the former Alabama Crimson Tide stand-out in nearly every other combine challenge.
Even more to the point, Second Round Stats actually took the time to break down the performance of the three biggest names at the cornerback position last season, and Rhodes numbers were surprisingly good.
While he was defending the air for the Florida State Seminoles, Rhodes was targeted less than Milliner and Johnthan Banks. When he was thrown at, he failed to defend just 8 percent of those plays. The other two guys allowed nearly double that percentage.
That type of efficiency is the definition of a lockdown corner, and Rhodes makes a strong case for himself as the best corner in the draft. It is something he has come out and said, which shows the type of confidence the young man has in his ability.
Playing on Saturday is definitely different than playing with the big boys on Sunday, but Rhodes has all of the strengths a draft team wants to see. If his name is still on the board when the Dolphins starts their time on the clock, expect him to be off the board before their time is up.