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NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Florida State CB Xavier Rhodes

03.05.13 at 3:43 pm ET
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WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that might be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2013 NFL draft. Here is one is a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’€™s time for the Patriots to make a selection.

XAVIER RHODES

Position: Cornerback

School: Florida State

Height: 6-foot-1

Weight: 210 pounds

Achievements: 2012 All-ACC, 2010 Freshman All-American, 2010 ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year

What he brings: Rhodes is a big, strong, aggressive, physical corner who projects well in a scheme that calls for a lot of press coverage and also brings the ability to come up and tackle in the run game and on screen passes.

At 6-foot-1, Rhodes will come into the league as one of the biggest defenders at the position and could provide the Patriots with a younger, cheaper version of Aqib Talib, should Talib leave the team via free agency this offseason. In fact, Talib is the player with which Rhodes is most often compared, with Dane Brugler of CBSSports.com projecting him as a similar player, albeit without Talib’€™s top-end speed.

As with any larger cornerback, Rhodes will have to prove he has the top-end speed and short-area quickness to match up with some of the NFL’€™s faster receivers. Although, given the right scheme, Rhodes has the ability to flourish without his weaknesses getting exposed too often. It’€™s more likely that Rhodes will end up being matched up against receivers such as Demaryius Thomas and Dwayne Bowe far more often than quicker slot receivers such as the Jets’ Jeremy Kerley.

It could take some time for Rhodes to adapt to the NFL game, as his aggressive, handsy style might have to adjust to what is a more tightly called game in the secondary. Additionally, Rhodes’€™ aggressive reputation likely will be tested early and often to try to get the defensive back to guess wrong.

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 1-2

Notes: After redshirting his first year at Florida State, Rhodes burst onto the scene, quickly becoming one of the top young defenders in college football, posting his most productive season in his first of three seasons as a starter. After his breakout season, Rhodes quickly established himself as a shutdown corner in the ACC, forcing teams to throw to his side of the field less, which caused his numbers to drop. Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher put it best as to why the corneback’€™s stats dropped after his freshman season.

‘€œAfter one good year when you get numbers, you usually don’€™t get them after that because they quit throwing at you,’€ Fisher said. ‘€œIt comes back to the respect and appreciation of how he plays the game and how good of a player he is. To me, when a corner doesn’€™t have big numbers, it’€™s because of the respect other teams have for you.’€

It’€™s unlikely that he will still be on the board for the Patriots at No. 29. However, Rhodes’ lack of elite speed and quickness might cause him to slip a little. Such concerns, along with the notion that he needs to significantly improve his discipline as a defender, have some experts projecting him as a second-round selection, while others have him coming off the board in the top 15.

Patriots fans fearing that their team could be targeting another Ras-I Dowling have less to fear with this outside cornerback. Although he was sidelined for most of what would end up being his redshirt year his first season with the Seminoles, Rhodes’ only other injury was a major knee sprain during the 2011 season. While Rhodes isn’t indestructible, he lacks the chronic injury concerns surrounding Dowling.

Related articles: ESPN: Advance scouting: Xavier Rhodes

Palm Beach Post: Florida State’€™s Xavier Rhodes, once a reluctant convert to defense, now a shutdown cornerback

ESPN: The reluctant corner

Video: Here is a package of highlights from Rhodes’€™ performances against Wake Forest and Clemson this past season.

Read More: 2013 NFL draft, 2013 Potential Patriots, Aqib Talib, Ras-I Dowling
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