Xavier Rhodes was considered one of the best big cornerbacks in the NFL draft this year. The situational statistics show why.
Rhodes, drafted No. 25 overall by the Minnesota Vikings last month, was one of the top-ranked cornerbacks for several reasons. He has the size at 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds and the speed, running a 4.43-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine in February.
He also had the experience. At Florida State, he started 38 of 43 games, recording 140 tackles, three fumbles recovered, two sacks, one forced fumble, eight interceptions and 23 passes defensed.
Now he's making the transition to a new defense (although he played some of the concepts at Florida State) and new teammates.
"You've got to learn everything. You've got to learn your teammates and how your teammates play. How they play off you. And also learn the system," Rhodes said after a practice earlier this month. "You don't want to go out there and not learn the system, be confused or running around with your head cut off and stuff like that. So you've got to learn everything."
Rhodes was the fourth cornerback selected, but ranked first in a STATS LLC study of "burn rates" among the top cornerbacks. He was burned by a defender 20 times, or 40.8 percent of the time a receiver was targeted that was credited as his responsibility.
By comparison, Alabama's Dee Milliner was the first cornerback taken, No. 9 overall by the New York Jets, and he was burned 26 times – 42.6 percent of the time. (D.J. Hayden, taken No. 12 overall, wasn't part of the STATS LLC study.)
Desmond Trufant, selected No. 22 overall by the Atlanta Falcons just before the Vikings had their first selection, was burned 23 times, or 44.2 percent of the time. And Johnthan Banks, the 11th pick in the second round (43rd overall), was burned 26 times, or 50 percent of the time.
Rhodes and Trufant gave up only one touchdown while Milliner gave up two and Banks four.
Rhodes, Milliner and Banks were all burned twice in the red zone, while Trufant wasn't credited with any burns in the red zone.
However, Rhodes also led the foursome in burns on third and fourth down, yielding just five of those. Milliner, Trufant and Banks were all credited with giving up eight first downs or touchdowns on third or fourth down.
Rhodes' statistics at Florida State shows he was one of the best cornerbacks available in the draft. Now it is up to him to make the transition to a slightly different defense, although he played Cover-2 zone concepts more than people are giving him credit, he said.
"To be honest, I played both (man and zone) at Florida State. Nobody really caught on to that, but I played off, I played fire zone, I played two – I played everything. My coach mixed it up. I was more press, but I basically played everything," Rhodes said.
"Sometimes in zone coverage you've just got to keep your man in front of you and stay in your zone."
Apparently he did that well, if the "burn rates" from the top cornerbacks in this year's draft are any indication.
Rhodes isn't a frequent ‘burn' victim
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