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Dolphins’ Options in First Round: Xavier Rhodes

We continue our look at potential Miami Dolphin first-round picks by moving to the defensive side of the ball. The Dolphins signed former Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes last week, finally addressing what was arguably their biggest need this offseason.

Even if Grimes is fully recovered from the Achilles injury that sidelined him for 15 games a year ago, though, the Dolphins still need to find another potential starter at the position.

Richard Marshall, who was a free-agent acquisition last spring, disappointed before heading to IR due to a nagging back injury. Dimitri Patterson will be paid a handsome $4.6 million if he is not released and looked decent in two starts for the Dolphins in December, but he was let go by Cleveland late last season for a reason.

With this in mind, many mock drafts have penciled in Florida State’s Xavier Rhodes to the Dolphins with the 12th selection.

Xavier Rhodes, Cornerback, Florida State

Height: 6-1
Weight: 210
40: 4.43
Vert: 40.5 inches
Bench: 14 reps

Strengths: Big, rangy corner. Great in press coverage. Remains balanced and mirrors well while pressing. Decently quick cuts and footwork for a bigger corner. Solid strength. Has shown ability to lay a big hit. Improved in run support.

Weaknesses: Sometimes looks tight hipped when not mirroring movements in press coverage. Struggles in zone coverage. Doesn’t do a good job of passing receivers off or closing in on those in his zone. Misses tackles at times with poor technique.

Film Room

Why draft Rhodes?

The NFL is a league that is dominated by quarterbacks. Nobody would argue that. And in a passing league, the key to being a successful defense is slowing down franchise quarterbacks like Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and Aaron Rodgers.

The Dolphins are not going to do that anytime soon without finding a lockdown corner that can shadow and contain some of the league’s most dynamic receivers. After all, the Dolphins’ biggest weakness a year ago was their pass defense, which ranked a miserable 27th.

After trading away Vontae Davis to the Colts, Miami simply didn’t have the talent at the cornerback position to handle some of the league’s better passing attacks. Xavier Rhodes would be an ideal replacement for Sean Smith, who signed with Kansas City in free agency, as a guy who can take on opposing offense’s number one target, shadowing them all game long with tight press coverage.

Why not?

The Dolphins must and will add a corner in the draft. There is no respectable argument against that. And they’ll likely use one of their first three or four picks to do so.

But Xavier Rhodes is not the best fit for Kevin Coyle’s defense, which is expected to play much more zone in 2013.

Rhodes excels in press man-to-man and struggles when asked to drop back into a zone. His hips look tight and his movements sluggish. Not that the Dolphins will draft exclusively by scheme and pass up on good players who don’t fit theirs like a glove, but there are several other options at the position that make more sense.

This draft is said to be deep at corner, meaning Jeff Ireland should feel no rush to snag one in the first round. Rhodes may not even be the highest corner on his board if the Dolphins choose to address the need at twelve. Washington’s Desmond Trufant and Ole Miss’ Johnthan Banks would also be solid options for Miami.

Truth be told, if the Dolphins want to improve their pass defense with their first pick, it may be wiser to select a pass rusher. The New York Giants have done a great job in recent years of laying out the blueprint to beat a quarterback like Tom Brady and an offense like the Patriots. And they haven’t done it with outstanding cornerback play. They’ve done it with pressure.

While improving the cornerback position still should be a priority, the Dolphins don’t need to use their first-round pick to do so.

What do you guys think? Should the Dolphins select Xavier Rhodes with their first-round pick?


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2 Responses to “Dolphins’ Options in First Round: Xavier Rhodes”

  1. Pete says:

    I agree. I think Miami should get Cameron Wake help and go after the best pass rusher they can find to play at the opposite end. Consistent pressure on a quarterback is something Miami has been lacking for years. all though they need a cornerback as well they can address that in the second round. After all without a consistent pass rush, how long can a cornerback cover a quality receiver with an all pro quarterback throwing the ball with all the time in the world to throw it.

    • Cody Strahm says:

      Exactly, Pete. The Dolphins need to get after the quarterback more in 2013. Cameron Wake cannot carry the production in that department by himself. Another solid pass rusher could help mask any deficiencies in the secondary.

      I just wonder what drafting a DE in the first round would mean for Jared Odrick. You typically don’t take someone that high if you don’t envision them being an every down player. And Odrick is very stout against the run and should be kept around for a potential move inside in the event either Starks or Soliai sign elsewhere in 2014.

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