Xavier Rhodes (born June 19, 1990) is an American football cornerback for the Minnesota Vikings of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at Florida State. He was drafted by the Vikings in the first round, 25th overall of the 2013 NFL Draft.
Rhodes attended Miami Norland High School in Miami Gardens, Florida, where he was a two-sport star in football and track. He played as a wide receiver, running back, and defensive back for the Miami Norland Vikings football team. As a junior, he recorded more than 1,000 all-purpose yards. In his senior year, he led his school in both rushing and receiving. He played in the 12th annual Nike South Florida All-Star game. He was honored as 6A FSWA first-team All-state selection, and a first-team All-Dade County athlete.
Rhodes also excelled in track & field at Norland. In his first season of track in 2007, he posted a personal-best time of 48.60 seconds in the 400-meter dash. At the 2008 Sam Burley Hall of Fame Meet, he earned a third-place finish in the 200-meter dash event with a time of 22.25 seconds. As a senior, he qualified for the state finals in the 100-meter dash after running a career-best time of 10.70 seconds in the prelims of the regional championship.
Regarded as a three-star recruit by Rivals.com, Rhodes was listed as the No. 75 wide receiver and the No. 91 prospect in the state of Florida. He chose FSU over scholarship offers from West Virginia, Auburn, and Florida International.
Rhodes received an athletic scholarship to attend Florida State University, where he played for coach Jimbo Fisher's Florida State Seminoles football team from 2009 to 2012. He started 38 of 43 games in the secondary in his distinguished college career.
As a freshman in 2009, Rhodes played in only two games against Boston College and Georgia Tech on special teams before suffering a hand injury that sidelined him for the rest of the season. He was granted a medical redshirt, preserving him another year of college eligibility.
In 2010, Rhodes started all 14 games at the boundary cornerback position and emerged as a promising young star for FSU's vastly improved defense. He used his physical attributes to record 12 pass breakups and four interceptions, good for a share of the team lead. His pass breakups and 16 passes defended led all freshmen nationally. He was credited with three pass breakups in pivotal Atlantic Division wins over Boston College and Clemson. He also intercepted a pass in the end zone against the Tigers which proved to swing the momentum in the Seminoles' 16-13 victory. His previous interceptions came against BYU and NC State. A sure tackler, the Miami native ranked seventh on the team with 58 stops and his 49 solo tackles ranked fourth. Rhodes's ability to play close to the line of scrimmage in coverage enabled him to collect 3.5 tackles for loss on the season and two sacks. He recovered the first two fumbles of his career in FSU's home finale against Florida in a 31-7 rout. He was named one of the top newcomers on defense at the annual Florida State football banquet. In all, he recorded 54 tackles, four interceptions, and two sacks. He was named the ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year and was a consensus freshman All-American. He also earned National Defensive Freshman of the Year honors from Collegefootballnews.com.
In his redshirt sophomore season in 2011, Rhodes started as part of a three-man cornerback rotation with Mike Harris and Greg Reid. He made five tackles at Clemson, at Wake Forest, and Duke. Against Maryland, Rhodes tallied a season-high six tackles. He intercepted his first pass of the season against NC State. He finished with four tackles in the win over Notre Dame in the 2011 Champs Sports Bowl. He registered 43 stops (36 solo) on the season with 1.5 tackles for loss, one interception, and four pass-breakups for the season. He was selected as the Mr. Dependable Skill Award winner at the team's annual banquet.
For his junior season in 2012, Rhodes was named to preseason watchlists for the Bednarik Award and Nagurski Trophy. He was also the only player from the ACC to be named a semifinalist for the Thorpe Award. He defended 10 passes on the season, placing 11th in the ACC and leading all FSU players, while his three interceptions tied for 8th and also tied for the team lead, leading this to earn first-team All-ACC honors. He also added seven pass break-ups which tied for third on the team. He recorded 39 tackles (27 unassisted) and 2.0 tackles for loss. His third interception and eighth career pick came in the ACC Championship Game versus Georgia Tech. The two other picks came against Murray State and at USF. He forced and recovered a fumble in the Orange Bowl against Northern Illinois. He registered a season-high seven tackles at NC State. He anchored an FSU secondary that held nine of the top 10 receivers in the ACC at the time they faced them to a combined 22 catches for 244 yards. In the last 12 games, he was targeted 47 times and allowed just 13 completions for 88 yards with two interceptions and seven pass break-ups. He helped Florida State's defense lead the nation in yards allowed per play (3.86), rank second nationally in total defense (254.14 ypg) and rank in the top six nationally in scoring defense (14.71 ppg), rushing defense (92.29 ypg), pass defense (161.86 ypg), pass efficiency defense (95.43) and opponent three-and-outs (6.29 per game). He earned the Mr. Dependable Skill Award at the team's annual banquet for the second straight year.
Shortly after FSU's 31–10 victory over Northern Illinois in the 2013 Orange Bowl, Rhodes announced his decision to forgo his final year of collegiate eligibility, entering the 2013 NFL Draft. "I did all I could in college. If I was to come back, I don't think my status would be getting any better," said Rhodes.
2013 NFL Draft
In January 2013, Rhodes was projected as a first-round selection in the 2013 NFL Draft by Sports Illustrated. The last Florida State defensive back selected in the first round was Patrick Robinson, who was selected by the New Orleans Saints in 2010.
|Ht||Wt||Arm length||Hand size||40‑yd dash||10-yd split||20-yd split||20‑ss||3‑cone||Vert jump||Broad||BP|
|6 ft 1 in|
|33 3⁄4 in|
|4.39 s||1.55 s||2.50 s||4.65 s||7.29 s||40 1⁄2 in|
|11 ft 0 in|
|All values from NFL Combine|
Rhodes was drafted in the first round, 25th overall by the Minnesota Vikings, as the fourth cornerback selected behind Dee Milliner (New York Jets), D. J. Hayden (Oakland Raiders), and Desmond Trufant (Atlanta Falcons). Rhodes is the highest selected defensive back from Florida State since Antonio Cromartie was taken 19th overall by the San Diego Chargers in the 2006 NFL Draft. He is the fourth defensive back in Vikings history selected in the first round and the second cornerback among the 4, joining 2012 pick Harrison Smith in consecutive seasons at in 1st round. He is also the third Florida State player chosen by the Vikings, as well as the second in the first round.
In his rookie season in 2013, Rhodes set the Vikings rookie record with 23 passes defensed. He started six games and saw action in 13. He missed the final three games with an ankle injury. On September 8, he made his NFL debut in the season opener against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field, when the team opened in nickel defense. He notched a season-high eight tackles, a tackle for loss, and a pass defensed against Green Bay on October 27. He started two consecutive games, which were against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on November 3 and against the Washington Redskins at home on November 7. He opened the game against Green Bay at Lambeau Field on November 24, ending with a season-high nine tackles and four passes defensed.
In Rhodes's first year as a full-time starter, he enjoyed a breakout season as the Vikings' shutdown cornerback, playing a key role in the Vikings pass defense improving to seventh overall in the NFL after being ranked 31st in 2013. In Week 4, he tied a career-high with four passes defensed in the Vikings' 41-28 victory over the Atlanta Falcons On November 16, Rhodes recorded his first career interception in Week 11 against Jay Cutler and the Chicago Bears. Rhodes ended the season with 49 combined tackles, one interception and a team-high 18 passes defensed that ranked fourth in the NFL and second in the NFC, topping his rookie season.
Rhodes started all 16 games for the second straight season, finished second on the team with 11 passes defensed, after leading the team in his first two NFL seasons as a key part of a defense that ranked fifth in the league in points per game allowed (18.9). In Week 12 against the Atlanta Falcons, he shadowed star wide receiver Julio Jones, limiting him to 5 catches for 56 yards. On January 1, he intercepted his second career pass late in the fourth quarter at Green Bay to help seal the victory over their division rival and the team’s first division title since 2009.
On May 2, 2016, the Vikings announced that they picked up the fifth-year option of Rhodes's contract. After helping the Vikings shut down Carolina’s top wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin in Week 3, Rhodes spent much of Minnesota’s 24-10 Monday Night Football win over the New York Giants shadowing star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who finished the game with career-lows in receptions with five and yards with 23 (nine targets). During the game, Rhodes lined up against Beckham on 23 pass plays and intercepted his first pass of the season due to a miscommunication between quarterback Eli Manning and Beckham in the third quarter. In Week 7 against the Philadelphia Eagles, Rhodes snagged his second interception of the season when rookie quarterback Carson Wentz dropped back to his own 30-yard line and fired a pass over the middle into triple coverage. Later in the fourth quarter, Rhodes caused running back Ryan Mathews to fumble on a first-and-10 play. After suffering a concussion in the loss to the Redskins on November 13, Rhodes passed through the concussion protocol and made his presence felt in a big way against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 11. On a third-and-goal play from the Vikings 9-yard shortly before halftime, Rhodes cut off a pass intended for wide receiver John Brown, then raced up the sideline for a 100-yard touchdown, the longest interception return in Vikings history and Rhodes' first pick-6 since high school. On the game, Rhodes allowed a passer rating of 0.0 into his coverage, surrendering as many catches (two, for 16 yards) on seven targets as interceptions and earning the highest-graded game of any player in Week 11 according to Pro Football Focus (PFF) at +94.5. For his performance in Week 11, Rhodes earned NFC Defensive Player of the Week. On December 20, Rhodes was selected to his first Pro Bowl, becoming the first Vikings cornerback to receive a Pro Bowl nomination since Antoine Winfield in the 2010 season. He was also ranked 66th on the NFL Top 100 Players of 2017.
On July 30, 2017, Rhodes signed a five-year, $78.12 million contract extension with the Vikings.
Minnesota Vikings franchise records
- Most passes defensed by a rookie: 23 (2013)
- Longest interception return: 100 yards (2016)