- WR Hartline cut after 6 seasons WR Gibson was also released
- Mike Tannenbaum hired... ...as Dolphins' executive VP of football operations
- Philbin retained Coach Philbin was given a contract extension
- Fins season ends on low note Jets down the Fins to end their season 8-8
PROS and CONS – CB XAVIER RHODES
PROS and CONS – XAVIER RHODES
Brent Grimes, Richard Marshall, Dimitri Patterson and Nolan Carroll, these are our projected starters at the moment. Forgive me if the recent signing of Brent Grimes to a stop-gap 1 year deal doesn’t have me running down the streets shouting “hallelujah, hallelujah “.
Though I agree Brent Grimes was a smart and necessary signing by Jeff Ireland, it’s still hard for me to completely buy into a soon to be 30yr old, 5’10” 183lbs cornerback with borderline 4.57s speed (pre-injury), who has missed a year of football due to tearing his Achilles tendon. Here is hoping that he returns to form and we can get a good year out of him.
Next we have journey-man Dimitri Patterson who has been with 6 teams over his 8 year career, that doesn’t inspire confidence; he has been released, cut, and allowed to walk from some pretty bad teams over his career. And is a player I rather see joining his 7th team sooner rather than later. If he takes a pay-cut I might re-consider, but regardless he is not starting caliber.
<span style=”font-family: verdana, geneva”>Nolan Carroll has shown glimpses of being a decent player, he is blessed with good physical attributes, but he has yet to put it all together consistently on the field. He is much better suited to press coverage and may be out of his element if the Dolphins decide to mix in more zone looks into their scheme. He is a player I always wanted to see more at FS, but his over-aggressiveness and lapses of awareness sometimes puts him in very bad positions to play the ball in the air which will be even more bothersome at FS.
Lastly, Richard Marshall entered the league as a very good athlete. He possessed the speed, agility and the tackling skills necessary to cover slot receivers and provide adequate run support while bringing pressure with nickel blitzes. He has had an average career thus far, with measured success with Carolina. If Marshall can pull it together, he could be a solid asset as our nickel corner. He needs to show up to camp at 100% to build some momentum and confidence heading into the season. Most fans have already written him off, but I will like to see a fully healthy season from him. If he gets banged up in camp or pre-season I want him gone.
All these things are big “what if’s” with each of our cornerbacks, I am not comfortable at all with the current state of secondary. I want to see us coming away with two corners in this upcoming draft, as I still see it as a tremendous need going forward. This is the draft to get quality cornerbacks in the first three rounds and some quality backups with upside potential in rounds 4 and 5.
Xavier Rhodes (The Hometown Prospect):
Firstly, stop looking at his height/weight combo and immediately comparing him to Sean Smith, that’s a caveman like approach to player analysis.
Secondly, don’t let his obvious strengths in certain aspects of the game lead you to automatically assume he is deficient in another.
Thirdly, again get the bad taste of Sean Smith out of your mouths (rinse, spit and repeat), approach Rhodes with a blank slate.
Finally, my favorite, watching a 3min youtube video with a catchy auto-tune track does not constitute as watching “tape” on a guy.
Rhodes is a phenomenal athlete, he was actually recruited out of Miami Norland HS as a wide receiver/running back and then transitioned fully to cornerback for FSU at the behest of his coaches. At 6’2” 210lbs, with 33.75in arms, a 40.5in vertical and 4.43s speed, Xavier’s range as a pass defender is on an elite tier by NFL Standards.
Rhodes is the prototypical press-corner. His strength and physical nature allow him to control and re-route receivers at the LOS. He uses his long arms and dominant build to engage receivers with a potent punch to the chest which disrupts the timing of their routes. He excels at man-to-man coverage, using his quick feet and athletic ability to mirror his opponents perfectly. But what truly sets Rhodes apart is his fluidity and ability to flip his hips to run with receivers after his initial contact at the LOS, he is a true cover corner.
Jeff Ireland commented earlier on in the off-season in an interview with Joe Rose, that these are the type of cornerbacks he is looking for, Ireland’s description of his ideal corner is exactly what Xavier Rhodes is, but Jeff’s roster moves since that statement have been contradictory. It’s hard to tell what is a smokescreen and what is not with Ireland. The addition of 4-3 blitz style linebackers and cornerback Brent Grimes screams more zone coverage next season.
Rhodes, when playing press coverage, press-bail and standard man-to-man, displays great footwork for a CB his size, Rhodes is basically playing in a trail technique the majority of the time. Rhodes exhibits natural instincts as a former wide-receiver to turn his head, to locate and track the ball in the air while sticking to his receiver down-field. His experience out of college in this technique is a very rare find. The vast majority of college corners regardless of size have to be coached up at the pro level to play the way Rhodes does now.
Rhodes’s excellent length and leaping ability also allow him to meet the ball before the receiver has a chance to make a play on it, resulting in a mind blowing 6.9% competition rate as compared to 13% by Dee Milliner. Rhodes is hardly ever beaten for a big play and he virtually takes away the end zone fade route, while making the back-shoulder pass a difficult completion because of his velcro coverage.
At his size, he is like a 3rd safety out there, Rhodes has proven that he is more than willing to join in run support, which makes him an excellent boundary corner that gives freedom to the FS/SS on his side on the formation to roam the secondary. With Brent Grimes playing the Field Corner on the wide side, the diminutive Grimes will undoubtedly require constant vigilance and support by the safety in the run game.
The Dolphins will be best served by having a versatile corner opposite Grimes that can step up and not be over-powered by blockers on the boundary side, a complementary corner who does not necessarily require strict safety help on outside pitches, sweeps and off-tackle runs. Rhodes also has some positional flexibility as he will project to be an elite level FS prospect in the NFL as well, he can very well take Chris Clemons spot next year, where he will remind me of the late great Sean Taylor (RIP).
There aren’t many “CONS”, as you can surmise by my glowing “PROS” section. I feel as though we have gotten to a point where he have our little boxes, and we try so hard to fit these draft prospects into them. If a prospect fits into box A, he therefore can’t fit into box B etc… We find faults when they don’t exist, we over amplify the infinitesimal to justify some reasoning in our head or we use past experiences (Sean Smith) to skew our thought process, all of this lead us incorrect assumptions. Dr. Herbert Simon once said “man’s decisions are guided more by their past errors than their past successes”.
I will agree that Xavier gets a little too aggressive at times with his coverage down-field he is not a holder, but he stays so tight on his man that he can be susceptible to some PI calls. He also had a knee injury in the 2011 season which kept him out of the draft that year, but it was not on the scale of an ACL tear, as it ended up being a sprained knee.
Although I do like Rhodes willingness to get physical with the ball-carrier, his aggressiveness also hurts him in the run game, he needs to become more patient setting the edge versus the run as he sometimes over-pursues which results in him chasing the play from behind.
The criticism that I really don’t understand is when I hear guys say that Rhodes can’t play inside at the nickel corner and that Rhodes can’t defend smaller receivers. First off why project Rhodes inside at nickel in the first place? It’s like saying Ray Rice is a great running back, but he can’t lead block. What is Ray Rice doing lead blocking? Rhodes was born to cover outside receivers! As for smaller receivers, listen to me, if you put a small receiver matched up on the outside with Xavier Rhodes the poor guy may never get off that press!
I looked really hard for zone coverage faults and what I saw was minimal, faults I saw exist in every prospect. Look, Rhodes is obviously in his element playing press-man and man-to-man coverage where he dictates the pace, but he is no push-over in zone coverage. The one nit-pick I had is that he has a tendency to want to stay with his zone man to long when they enter his area of the field, he refuses to give an inch, he is wired to velcro his guys like a dog barking at a passing car. In zone after the initial 5 yards he must learn to allow the play to progress naturally and develop better timing to know when to under-cut the route. Also Rhodes hardly ever played off-man technique, there is going to have to be some projection there if that is a major requirement.
The issue with his hips is non-existent IMO, the guy is smooth, he will punch, turn and go stride for stride with anyone. When I read some of the criticisms about his agility and ability to flip his hips, it’s like the authors giving the criticisms were confused, almost always contradicting themselves line after line.
Between Rhodes and Trufant I think there is no comparison. Trufant is a quality prospect but sorry Rhodes is special. And as much as a great prospect I think Rhodes is, if the Dolphins decide to pass on Rhodes at #12, its not the end of world because the second round and possibly 3rd round is stocked with starting caliber talent at cornerback, though not on the scale of Rhodes. DC Kevin Coyle has worked his magic before with fledgling talent, I just hope Ireland doesn’t rely on Coyle’s ability alone and actually gives him some talent to work with!
|PLAYER||AVG YDS/REC ALLOWED|
Because of the depth in the 2nd round at CB, I will still be in favor of Lane Johnson and Ezekiel Ansah over Xavier Rhodes at #12. But I am taking Rhodes over Eifert all day long, and setting my sights on Travis Kelce in the 3rd.
Alternatives at Cornerback
|PLAYER||HT||WT||ARMS||BENCH||BROAD||VERT||3 CONE||40Y T||ROUND|
|Xavier Rhodes||6-02||210||33 3/4||14||11.00||40.5||7.29**||4.43||1|
|Desmond Trufant||6-00||190||31 1/4||16||10.42||37.5||6.67||4.38||1|
|Darius Slay||6-00||192||32 1/4||14||10.33||35.5||6.90||4.36||2|
|Jamar Taylor||5-11||192||30 3/4||22||10.58||35||6.82||4.39||2|
|D.J. Hayden||5-11||191||31 1/8||DNP||10.00||33.5||DNP||4.4||2|
|David Amerson||6-01||205||32 5/8||15||10.58||35.5||6.75||4.44||2|
|Johnthan Banks||6-02||185||33 7/8||10||10.42||34||6.97||4.61||2|
|Jordan Poyer||6-00||191||31 3/4||8||9.83||30.5||6.87||4.54||2|
|Dwayne Gratz||5-11||201||32 1/8||22||10.42||38||6.70||4.47||3|
|B.W. Webb||5-10||184||30 1/4||14||11.00||40.5||6.82||4.51||4|
**Xavier Rhodes 3 Cone Time of 7.29s was on a damp/wet field at FSU Pro Day.
My Favorite Alternative: Darius Slay/David Amerson
*CB College Statistics Provided by secondroundstats.com
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