Xavier Rhodes is close to elite status

Sam Monson writes that the Vikings' Xavier Rhodes could be one of the NFL's best cornerbacks by season's end.

| 2 years ago
(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Xavier Rhodes is close to elite status

If there’s an NFL cornerback primed to cross the divide between good and elite this season, it’s Minnesota’s Xavier Rhodes.

Getting rave reviews during Vikings camp, Rhodes showcased the kind of potential he had last season, his first under Mike Zimmer. With continued improvement heading in 2015 he could start to rival the best in the game when it comes to shutting down the pass.

Rhodes finished the 2014 season as our 14th-graded corner in coverage, but there was a four-game stretch late in the season during which he was topped only by Darrelle Revis, and had some staggeringly good coverage numbers. Over that period he was thrown at 22 times, allowed only seven receptions for 54 yards, while notching seven pass breakups and one interception. Quarterbacks targeting Rhodes over that time had a passer rating of just 22.2.

This was an example of the heights the former first-round pick can hit, but even over the entire season no corner matched the frequency with which he broke up passes (one in every 5.9 targets). That was the best rate of any cornerback over the last eight seasons.

Rhodes has elite potential, and was able to display it not just for a game, but for an extended stretch last year, just his second in the league.  Year 3 is traditionally the season cornerbacks make the biggest jump towards their ceiling, so we could be about to see a player force his way into the discussion about the best coverage players in the game.

| Senior Analyst

Sam is a Senior Analyst at Pro Football Focus, as well as a contributor to ESPN and NBCSports.

  • LightsOut85

    While I don’t disagree with the overall “prediction”, it’s very statistically unsound to have it based on a FOUR game sample size (for a sport where it’s already difficult to get sufficient sample sizes within a single season) – especially when 2 (the higher 2) of the 4 were against the receivers of CAR & NYJ. Outside of those 4, he only had 1 other game “in the green” (in coverage), and if we subtract those 4 his coverage grade is -5 (including -1.9 in the 3 games after those good 4). Again, I do think the kid could become a top CB, but you can just as easily argue against it (at least, against it happening soon) using the grades & a bit more context.

    • skiingdemon

      The pass disruption rate over the course of the season seems convincing though. That’s a stat that predicted some of Watt’s unique talents. A difficult stat to fake. You have to be in position all the time to league the lead in deflections.

      • LightsOut85

        That’s true (like I said, I agree Rhodes looks to be a very good CB on the verge of a breakout) – but it doesn’t take away the fact that the specific reasoning/evidence Sam mentioned is pretty misleading (and even if all 4 games were against quality WRs, and his other games were better, a 4 game sample size (where 1 game is 1 unit) is a very small one).

  • AP284life

    Packers suck!

  • Ben Anderson

    Cortez Allen looked “elite” for a few games in 2012 too. That isn’t working out too well. Methinks PFF needs to go back to Ratings School.

    • enai D

      Lol nice try