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Advance scouting: Xavier Rhodes

In advance of attending the NFL combine in Indianapolis later this month, ESPNBoston.com has identified 10 prospects it wants to learn more about. Along those lines, Steve Muench of Scouts Inc. is helping provide background and insight from his time studying tape and attending all-star games such as the Senior Bowl.

Player: Xavier Rhodes

Position: Cornerback

Height/weight: 6-foot-1, 215 pounds

School: Florida State

Why he's on the radar: If the Patriots don't re-sign Aqib Talib, and Devin McCourty remains at safety, the need for a cornerback becomes that much greater.

Projection: Early-to-mid rounds

Muench's take: "Rhodes has the length, enough fluidity, and the top-end speed to develop into an effective press corner. He has the size, range and ability to play the run that Cover-2-heavy schemes covet at corner. While he isn’t a ball hawk, he flashes the ability to make plays in coverage and he has the long arms to get his hands on passes even when he’s not in sound position. It’s also important to point out that he’s built more like a safety than a corner and like Devin McCourty he has the tools to make the transition if it doesn’t work out at corner. He can cover a lot of ground in deep coverage and he’s tough against the run. It doesn’t hurt that he lined up over the tight end in certain situations at Florida State either. There are still enough concerns to drop him into the late Day 2/early Day 3 range at this point however. Most notably, like a lot of taller corners, he doesn’t sink his hips and transition out of breaks as well as elite cover corners. Secondly, Rhodes’ instincts and discipline are just average. He can gamble and he lacks the second gear to consistently recover when he gets caught out of position. Third, he’s had some problems staying healthy."