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Florida State's early entry draft candidates

Part one

CB Xavier Rhodes

Rhodes was matched up against Notre Dame Wide Receiver (and probable first round NFL draft pick) Michael Floyd. Rhodes shadowed Floyd all over the field before suffering a knee sprain early in the third quarter. Up until that point Rhodes had fared well against the 6-3 220 pound receiver having held Floyd in check to the tune of three catches for a mere 20 yards (Floyd had been targeted eight times up to that point). Matchups like Rhodes vs. Floyd are intriguing due to the fact that it gives both players a chance to measure themselves against players who closely resemble the type of talent they'll be competing against on the next level. And although Rhodes did well, there were some flaws that were exposed. Rhodes top end speed may have to be questioned due to Floyd getting a step on him on one play where the ball was overthrown and was beaten on another deep ball. However in that instance, Floyd dropped the pass. With all that being said, Rhodes was playing press man coverage against Floyd in both instances. I'd have a bit more concern if he was playing off man coverage and still managed to get beaten on a vertical route. On the positive side, Rhodes was extremely physical with Floyd at the snap and won the majority of their battles at the line of scrimmage using his long arms to consistently re-route Floyd and disrupt the timing between Notre Dame Quarterback Tommy Rees and his primary receiver.  

Xavier Rhodes

NFL comparison:

Rookie CB Jimmy Smith of the Baltimore Ravens

Like the 6-2 205 pound Smith, Rhodes is a tall, rangy cornerback (6-2 215) who uses his length to disrupt routes at the line of scrimmage. At first glance, some may think of Rhodes as a candidate to move to free safety at the NFL level due to his size. However, Rhodes has the knee bend to sink low in his stance, transitions well out of his backpedal ,and has the lateral quickness to mirror sharp breaking routes effectively. I don't think he'd run a 4.46 40 yard dash like Smith did at the combine last year but as long as he can run around a 4.52 I don't think his draft stock would be adversely effected.

Should he stay or go?

While only Xavier himself knows what factors will play the biggest role in his decision, what I do know is this: If Rhodes indeed declares he will cast himself in a pool of the deepest cornerback class I've ever seen. The 2012 cornerback draft class is deep in terms of both quality as well as sheer numbers as there are around 17-20 draft eligible cornerbacks who will be fighting for position within the first three to four rounds. That being said; even though nagging early season injuries prevented Rhodes from being able to sufficiently build on the success of his breakout 2010 season this past year he still possesses a rare size/skill combo at cornerback that is coveted by NFL execs and player personnel types. If he can secure himself a spot in the top 50 players chosen then I would suggest he leave. Even though he's still relatively inexperienced at the position having only been a full time cornerback for two seasons, he's been a quick study and a more consistent player than former Florida State cornerback Patrick Robinson who's currently a starter in his second year with the New Orleans Saints. Granted, Rhodes has probably benefitted from better coaching the past two seasons under FSU defensive coordinator/defensive back coach Mark Stoops. In my opinion if Rhodes leaves, it will be simply a matter of him taking advantage of an opportunity to fulfill his dream and we should all wish him well. If he stays it would be for the purpose of securing himself a spot in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft.