The corner position is one that is going to need to be addressed. There are some decisions that need to be made on Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, but it looks likely that the Eagles will need to bring in a corner or two who aren’t currently on the roster.
The Eagles could be interested in Dee Milliner with the fourth overall selection, but if they don’t go corner in the first round, Xavier Rhodes could be an option early in the second round.
At 6-1 and 210 pounds, Rhodes has the ideal frame you look for in a physical press corner. I’ve always preferred the type that can get up in in a receiver’s face and force them out of route rather then those who consistently sit back and let the receiver get off the line clean. An effective press corner can really through a hitch in the timing between a quarterback and receiver.
Rhodes lives at the line of scrimmage and plays in a receiver’s personal space from the snap all the way to the completion of the play. He has an effective one-handed jam move he uses from time to time, but it’s something I’d like to see him work on at the next level to get in the receivers chest quicker and maximize how he uses his long reach.
During his time at Florida State, Rhodes was a starter as a redshirt freshmen in 2010 before splitting time in 2011. He was back in the starting lineup in 2012 and had a solid year overall, recording 39 tackles, a forced fumble and three interceptions. After recording a 4.43 40-yard dash and a vertical leap of over 40 inches at the NFL Combine, Rhodes has shown that he has great athleticism that he can pair with his physicality.
Outside of pass coverage, Rhodes has room for improvement. He is a mediocre tackler and doesn’t provide strong support in the run game. From time to time, he can get off blocks pretty nicely but it’s something you’d like to see him do with more consistency. He generally tends to be uninterested in plays that aren’t heading his way as well.
Check out this video of Rhodes against Northern Illinois in the Orange Bowl, via DraftBreakdown.com.
Of course, the biggest deciding factor around the value at cornerback will be what they do with the current guys on their roster and whether or not they add anyone in free agency. I don’t think retaining both Asomugha and DRC is a possibility, so if they don’t add anyone in free agency, it seems likely they’ll need to add one through the draft.
Rhodes is a guy that some believe could go in the first round. However, there is a real possibility that he could end up coming off the board early on day two. For the Eagles, this could be a guy they could pick up and plug into the defense from day one. Rhodes’ combination of speed and size allows him to effectively cover a lot of different types of receivers. He can run with faster receivers when he needs to and can get physical with bigger receivers at the line.
If the Eagles aren’t comfortable with their starting corners when draft day comes, I think Rhodes is a guy who could give them a lot of value in the second round.