Although he had a rough start at cornerback, Rhodes earned his way onto the field as a freshman, but a hand injury ended his season prematurely and led to a medical redshirt. The injury ended up to be a blessing in disguise because it allowed Rhodes to watch film and learn the subtle nuances of the cornerback position while he redshirted.
He returned healthy in 2010 and started all 14 games, emerging as one of the young studs of the Seminoles' defense with 12 pass break-ups and four interceptions. Rhodes failed to match his production as a sophomore (four pass break-ups, one interception), but teams tended to stay away from his side of the field.
Rhodes flirted with the NFL waters after the 2011 season, but decided to return to Tallahassee, especially after he suffered a knee injury in a bowl win over Notre Dame.
He tied for the team-lead in interceptions (three) in 2012, giving him eight over the past three seasons, and earned first-team All-ACC honors. He put up solid numbers despite teams largely staying away from Rhodes' side of the field.
"After one good year when you get numbers, you usually don't get them after that, because they quit throwing at you," FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher said. "It comes back to the respect and appreciation of how he plays the game and how good of a player he is. To me, when a corner doesn't have big numbers, it's because of the respect other teams have for you."
Rhodes is one of the more talented cornerbacks at the college level, and solidified his first-round status with a 4.39-second 40-yard dash at the Scouting Combine in February.
Rhodes has very good click-and-close ability with strong plant-and-go burst to drive on plays in front of him, undercutting routes and knocking down passes. He does a nice job getting his head around to locate and high point with very good leaping ability and timing. Rhodes can flip his hips and easily change directions with a near-effortless transition, showing the ability to adjust and contort his body.
He is confident and instinctive in coverage, coming off his man to make a play on the ball with very good ballskills. Rhodes does a nice job defeating blocks to be a factor against the run and is a punishing striker, making the decleating hit if it's there.
He has very good experience with 39 career starts, finishing his collegiate career with eight interceptions and 31 passes defended.
WEAKNESSES: Rhodes tends to get too physical in tight coverage, playing too hands-on and grabby, which will attract pass interference penalties. He plays very aggressive with the ball in the air, but makes too much contact and needs to pay more attention to body position.
Rhodes needs to show better discipline and is susceptible to play fakes and misdirection. He lacks elite long-speed and isn't a quick-twitch type of athlete. Rhodes needs to stay assignment-sound holding contain against the run. He needs to eliminate the penalties and stay focused, controlling his intensity.
COMPARES TO: Aqib Talib, CB, New England Patriots - While Rhodes isn't quite as fast as Talib despite a fast 40 clocking at the combine, he doesn't have the same character concerns, either. But both do have tall, long frames with a knack for making plays on the ball when it's in the air.
-- Dane Brugler