Archive for the ‘Florida State’ Category

Xavier Rhodes (27) chases after Northern Illinois QB Jordan Lynch during the Orange Bowl in Miami, FL on Jan. 1, 2013. Florida State beat the Huskies, 31-10

Florida State cornerback Xavier Rhodes (27) chases after Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch during the Orange Bowl in Miami, FL on Jan. 1, 2013. The Seminoles beat the Huskies, 31-10.

Redshirt junior cornerback Xavier (pronounced: Zay-vee-er) Rhodes out of Florida State (6′ 2″, 217 lbs.) is a big, physical corner who punched his ticket to the NFL after FSU’s Orange Bowl victory over Northern Illinois. He believes that he has done all he can in college and now he is ready to take his talents to whichever team decides to take him in April’s draft. In a draft that does not feature a bevy of cornerback talent, maybe that was a good choice. Maybe he could have risen his stock a little if he would have stayed the extra year in Tallahassee. But, those questions cannot be answered, and I, along with many NFL teams, am A-OK with that.

I will now evaluate Rhodes based on these criteria: Agility, Run Defense, Awareness, Range, Coverage, Tackle, Ball Skills, Speed, Burn Rate, and Health.

AGILITY:

Rhodes is not the most agile corner in the world, but he is agile enough to be a good corner in the NFL. He does get juked sometimes. An example of a time where that has happened is at the 5:33 mark of the USF/Miami video. It is in the Miami portion and Rhodes is in man coverage, covering Miami WR Rashaun Scott throws a juke on a slant and go route that throws Rhodes and allows Scott to get behind the coverage and open for Stephen Morris to hit him with a deep pass. Scott drops the ball on the play, but it still makes my point. Rhodes sometimes lets his hips lock up, but that can easily be improved by some yoga or hip flexibility drills. 8.5/10.0

RUN DEFENSE:

I feel as if Rhodes reads the play for too long. There were plays throughout his tape when he would get locked up with the receiver and then try to read the play. He would then not be able to react to the run in time, and sometimes it would get past him for a big gain. When any receiver tries to lock up with him and block him, he should immediately throw a move to get the guy off of him, because it’s a run. That made it look like he could have had more tackles. He is a solid run defender when he does shed his blocks. He is a power hitter and usually a fundamental tackler. 8.0/10.0

AWARENESS:

Rhodes has pretty good awareness. He can see what play is coming typically, and adjusts himself accordingly. FSU played a lot of soft coverage (meaning he starts with the receiver having a 5-10 yard cushion), which allows him to see more of the play and adjust more and faster. Rhodes recognizes play action very well and he rarely bites, if ever. FSU also runs a lot of man (some of which started out in the soft coverage), which helps out with his awareness, since he just has to react to what his man is doing. He was not often used as a blitzer, but when he was, he was committed to the QB, usually, and didn’t try to read the play. As one can see in the Miami play, he can fall victim to route changes (that pass was on a slant and go route, as I stated above). But overall good awareness. 8.5/10.0

RANGE:

Rhodes possesses very good range. He has the ability to see the ball and his reactions are great, but sometimes he has to pull off of his man to try to make plays. An example of that is in the Wake Forest/Clemson tape at the 4:49 mark, Rhodes has to pull off of his man and try to knock the ball away from Clemson TE Brandon Ford. He misses and Ford scores, but the fact that he almost knocked the ball down impressed me. His angles on those plays aren’t the greatest but it’s not his fault that he has to make up slack for his teammates. He takes great angles on run plays and is usually in on or near the play unless he’s in deep coverage. He keeps up with receivers when the ball is in the air and he closes very quickly on those. 8.75/10.0

COVERAGE:

Rhodes is a very skilled cover corner. Coverage is definitely one of his best assets, and the team that drafts him. When he’s in coverage, QB’s shouldn’t usually throw to receivers that he is covering, since they are not usually open and Rhodes is a decent ball hawk, but they do anyway. Rhodes is very physical and always on his man. He is better in man coverage than in zone, but he is still very good in both. 9.0/10.0

TACKLE:

Rhodes is a solid tackler. He is a power hitter, as I mentioned earlier, and his only flaw is that there are times when he just goes for the huge blow and doesn’t wrap up, but that’s a problem a lot of DBs have, even at the pro level. He delivers fierce hits, doesn’t let receivers or running backs break many tackles, and is usually a good form tackler. Finished with 112 tackles in 2012, 39 of which were in 2012. 8.5/10.0

BALL SKILLS:

Rhodes is very good at attacking the ball at the highest point and knocking the ball down or picking the ball off. He had 3 picks in 2012 (8 total in his career) and 7 other passes defended (23 in his career), also forced one fumble. He attacks the ball when it gets to his receiver. That’s the best way I can put it. 9.0/10.0

SPEED:

Rhodes is fast. His 40-yard dash time currently is 4.55, fast enough to keep up with just about anybody in pads. Definitely something that NFL teams will like about him. Surprising with speed like that, that he is considered a second round prospect. 9.0/10.0

BURN RATE:

Where coverage is how well the receiver does preventing the QB from throwing the ball to the WR Rhodes is covering, Burn Rate is how well Rhodes (or any other corner for that matter) does when the ball is thrown to the WR he is covering. And thanks to his speed, ball skills, and tackling ability, among many other factors, Rhodes has a great burn rate. Basically, he doesn’t get burned often. There are times (The Miami play) where he does, but usually he’s right there with his man making a play. He’s there breaking up passes, picking off passes, and not allowing his receiver to catch the ball. This is a great skill for him to have going forward. 9.0/10.0

HEALTH:

Rhodes missed the Savannah State and Maryland games in 2012 (I cannot find the actual injuries) and this may be something to watch. Maybe it won’t be, but until I know the actual injuries, one cannot be sure. I’m sure that NFL teams know what the injuries were (and if anyone knows what they were, it would be awesome if they could tell me in the comments below), and that they are not worried about them being an issue. 8.0/10.0

OVERALL:

Rhodes’ overall score from me is an 8.63/10.00. I said this earlier, but I am very surprised that Xavier Rhodes is a second round prospect. He is a solid tackler, fast, and has very good coverage skills. I really like Rhodes and I believe that he will be off of the board by the end of the first round. Now where exactly do I think he will go? I don’t think that many teams in the top half of the first round will be looking to take a cornerback that high, so look for him to be hanging around in the latter half to quarter of the first round. I would take him as a first rounder and not let another team grab him in the second round. I think he’ll make a great corner in the NFL. The team that I think will take him: the New England Patriots at #29. The Patriots need a deep threat wide receiver more than anything, so they’ll be looking for that first, but I don’t think they’ll find it in the draft. I see them taking Rhodes and letting him learn behind Kyle Arrington, Aqib Talib (who I believe they will re-sign), and Alfonzo Dennard. And if Dennard is sentenced to prison time for assualting an officer and resisting arrest (he was found guilty, sentencing is set for April 11), then it will be even more likely that the Patriots will go after a corner in the draft. They could also turn him into a safety like they did with Devin McCourty.

HIGHLIGHTS:

Let me know what you think in the comments below and follow me on Twitter! @J_Vinton52

Next, I’ll be previewing Sheldon Richardson, DE, Missouri!

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Bjoern Werner (95) reaches for Wake Forest QB Tanner Price on Sept. 15, 2012

Bjoern Werner (95) reaches for Wake Forest QB Tanner Price (10) on Sept. 15, 2012

At 6′ 4″ and 256 lbs, Florida State’s Bjoern Werner is an intimidating figure. The defensive end originally from Berlin (and yes I mean Germany) has vaulted up draft boards (thanks to 13 sacks and 42 total tackles) this past year to become CBS’s #2 overall player and ESPN’s #8 player overall. From that it can be seen that scouts love this guy.

Now, I will evaluate him on these criteria: Agility, Bull Rush, Speed Rush, Run Defense, Speed/Burst, Strength, Pass Deflect, Tackle, Read and React, Health, and Overall.

AGILITY: 

Werner has amazing agility. He possesses the ability to change directions when he is going full speed in his pass rush and get around 300+ lb. offensive tackles and get to quarterbacks. He creates a ton of pressure in the backfield, but I’ll get more into that when I talk about his pass rushing. Werner also always keeps his feet moving which helps him a ton in this area. He has a rare motor that is going 100% of the time. It’s something I wish I could see out of every defensive end in the NCAA. 9.5/10.0

BULL RUSH: 

Werner is extremely strong and very technically sound and uses that to his advantage with his bull rush. Werner locks his arms out (pushes the offensive lineman back until his arms are completely straight) and keeps his feet driving and head up so that he can read the play. When he is in the position to use a bull rush, he pushes the o-lineman back about five yards and then throws him using basic throw or any of a bevy of moves that he has at his disposal. This is not the best part of his rush game, but it is still extremely good. 9.0/10.0

SPEED RUSH:

This is best part of Werner’s pass rushing and by far the one he uses most often. Because he is so fast and usually on the edge, Werner uses his speed to run around his offensive lineman and then throw a rip move when he turns toward the QB. Werner takes the best angle possible and closes in on the QB before one even knows it. The best example of this is in the Oklahoma game from 2011. At 1:12 in the video I will post below, Werner uses a perfect speed rush to close in on Sooner QB Landry Jones within three seconds. A NFL couldn’t ask for more from him. 9.5/10.0

RUN DEFENSE: 

This is probably the area of Werner’s game that could use the most work and it isn’t even really that bad. Werner can read any play almost instantaneously which helps him out a ton in this area. There are just times that he will get turned by an o-lineman or he will miss tackles on running backs. There are also sometimes where he over pursues, but honestly, what d-lineman doesn’t at one point or another. I never really saw Werner lose contain other than the times he got turned, which was only a couple. If I were an NFL team, I would look at that at his biggest area of improvement, but not really as an area of weakness. 8.0/10.0

SPEED/BURST: 

Werner is the fastest defensive lineman I have seen in quite some time. His speed rush is absolutely amazing and when he chases after a play that has gotten past him, he gets there in no time. Every play he bursts off of the line of scrimmage with amazing amounts of speed, quickness, and agility. He just possesses this rare motor that pushes him to speeds I only wish I could get to. 9.5/10.0

STRENGTH: 

Werner is one strong dude. That is the best way I can think to describe him. A great example is from that same Oklahoma game I mentioned earlier. (The play happens at 1:01 in the video) In the play, the FSU defensive is backed up at its own 3 and 1/2 yard line, and Werner uses a great burst like I mentioned above, and an amazing rip and basically holds the Oklahoma tight end who was blocking him in this heavy, goal line formation at his side with that one arm and puts enough pressure on Landry Jones that it forces him to throw the ball out of the back of the end zone. I cannot wait to see how many reps he puts up in the bench press test at the combine. 9.0/10.0

PASS DEFLECT: 

When a player gets compared to J.J. Watt (nicknamed “J.J. Swat”) for his ability to knock down passes, then they are obviously pretty good at it. And all of that applies to Bjoern Werner. Werner has taken what all defensive line coaches teach, which is to get your hands up if you can’t get to the quarterback, and made it into one of his best assets. I’m sure there have been QBs who have thrown to the other side than Werner is lined up on just because they don’t want to get the ball knocked down.  This ability can be seen throughout Werner’s tapes, but especially in the Virginia Tech and NC State games from this past season (1:10 in the VT video and 9:00 in the NC State video). 9.0/10.0

TACKLE: 

As I stated earlier, Werner is a good tackler, but he does miss some tackles in the run game. This will be something that he’ll need to improve on, but for now he is definitely a good enough tackler for the NFL and I can guarantee you there are teams salivating at the chance to have Werner on their defense. 8.5/10.0

READ AND REACT:

This was the first area that really struck me as being one of Werner’s best. I said this earlier, but I’ll say it again here. Werner can read plays and react with a pass rush or start reading for where the running back or quarterback is running almost instantaneously. It is an ability that not all players have and this will help him a ton at the next level. 9.5/10.0

HEALTH: 

I can’t think of any injuries that Werner suffered in college that will hamper him on Sundays (if he even suffered any injuries during college). So, yeah, he’s perfectly healthy. 10.0/10.0

OVERALL: 

I have Bjoern Werner as a 9.15/10.00, which is extremely good. Overall, I believe that Werner is a big, strong, technically-sound, fast guy who is ready to move onto the NFL and be one of the top 5 picks in the first round in April.

If it’s not already apparent, I love Bjoern Werner. I think that “The Germanator” is going to do some special things in the National Football League. Now where exactly do I see him getting drafted? I think KC is in love with Luke Joeckel, so as much as I wish he would go #1 so that there can be another top tier pass rusher in the AFC West other than Von Miller, I think Werner will go #2 to the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jags are another team that are in desperate need of some one at almost every position, and I think that they’ll love what they see from Werner in the Combine and at his Pro Day March 19.

HIGHLIGHTS: 

Let me know what you think in the comments below and follow me on Twitter! @J_Vinton52 and tomorrow I’ll be previewing West Virginia QB Geno Smith!