The Minnesota Vikings have selected Florida State CB Xavier Rhodes with the 25th overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft.
Pros: Big, physical player who uses his size as an advantage -- both in coverage and in tackling ability. At times, will shed blocks with the mentality of a small linebacker -- doesn't fear contact at all. Outstanding player at the line -- in press coverage, and when asked to play a force defender role against the run. Physical press corner who can trail deep sideline routes with elite speed. As a boundary corner, does a great job of establishing inside position and using his hands to keep track of his receiver while he keeps his eye on the ball. Adapts to less-than-optimal hip turn with good understanding of angles -- will box his receivers out well.
Rhodes is especially practiced at jamming his receivers at the line, upsetting the timing of their routes, and forcing them to make different plans on the fly. Establishes a good hand-stab out of press and keeps the pressure on all the way. Very aware player on longer routes -- will establish a presence in front of the ball and make it very tough for his target.
Cons: The downside to Rhodes' physicality is the extent to which he'll slip on the border of playing dangerously -- will rack up contact calls and personal fouls with his current style of play in the NFL. Tends to get handsy beyond the allowed five-yard area. Doesn't possess an optimal backpedal or hip turn, which leaves him a bit lost in off-coverage against better and faster receivers -- tends to recover too much in those situations. Tends to run around too much when going in reverse; he has trouble staying in a straight line. Will get logey when stepping in small spaces and he'll lose quicker receivers in zone or off-man drops.
What he brings to the team: Physical ability and impressive power. Rhodes has obvious technique issues, and he needs to get his game a bit more under control, but in the right scheme, he could very well be a real game-changer. All he needs is a team that understands his potentially huge value, and a coaching staff that will smooth out a few of the rough edges. Rhodes could (and should) be used right away as an "enforcer" at the line with the ability to affect route after route with his physical presence
Was it the right pick? Great pick from an athletic perspective, though I wonder how well Rhodes will play zone in Leslie Frazier's schemes.