Everything seemed to fall right into the Minnesota Vikings' lap in the first round of the 2013 NFL draft. First they were able to address the need at defensive tackle when Sharrif Floyd from Florida, one of the top two DTs in the draft, fell all the way to 23rd.
When the Vikings' second turn in the first round came, the top corner in the draft was long gone. The New York Jets selected Dee Milliner with the ninth pick in the draft that they received from Tampa Bay. This was almost a given after being forced to trade away Darrelle Revis to Tampa.
Then, with the 25th pick in the draft, the Vikings were able to help offset the loss of Antoine Winfield with the selection of another product from the state of Florida—cornerback Xavier Rhodes from Florida State.
The Vikings didn't waste any time selecting Rhodes when they were on the clock for the second time in the first round. After Milliner, the Raiders did the Vikings a favor and reached a little deep, selecting D.J. Hayden with the 12th pick. Matt Miller, B/R Lead NFL Draft writer, had Hayden ranked at 65th overall.
The Falcons used the 22nd pick to take Desmond Trufant.
That left Rhodes on the board for the Vikings with two of the next three picks. Walter Football had him ranked second behind Milliner and just ahead of Trufant. According to Walter Football, Rhodes' performance at the NFL combine helped to raise his stock.
After refusing to pay Winfield $7 million and releasing him, the Vikings created a huge hole at cornerback. Winfield was the team's best cornerback and the league's best tackling corner according to Pro Football Focus.
At 35, Winfield was the oldest player on the Vikings' roster last season. In his place comes the junior from Florida State.
It's possible that someday in the near future, the Vikings' starting cornerbacks could be two players drafted as juniors from Florida schools. Rhodes could wind up starting with Josh Robinson, the Vikings' second-round draft pick in 2012 from Central Florida.
Don't expect Rhodes to crack the starting lineup—at least not right away.
The Vikings' first depth chart of the season will most likely have Chris Cook and A.J. Jefferson listed atop the depth chart with Robinson third and Rhodes fourth. It's the same move they made with Harrison Smith last season, making the rookie earn his way to the top.
In his three seasons at Florida State, Rhodes twice led the Seminoles in interceptions, as a freshman and again last year as a junior. He finished his college career with eight interceptions and averaging 47 tackles. At 6'2" and 210 pounds, Rhodes gives the Vikings another big cornerback. Cook is also 6'2" and 212 pounds but has struggled to remain on the field.
CBS Sports also had Rhodes ranked as the second-best cornerback in the draft. They describe him as a strong corner that is physical at the line of scrimmage with excellent arm length.
That same aggressiveness, however, could lead to pass interference penalties at the next level.
Rhodes is a great addition to a position in need of an upgrade for the Vikings. Although he won't start atop the depth chart when the season opens, he will be a big part of the defense as the season progresses.