7. Xavier Rhodes
Indianapolis Colts · CB
Passer rating allowed: 64.4
Catch rate allowed below expectation: -12.6%
Tight window pct: 27.8%
Target rate: 15.2%
Average separation: 2.2 yards
Targeted expected points added: -17.8
Rhodes had one of the most remarkable year-to-year turnarounds in recent memory for a veteran corner, making the move from Minnesota to Indianapolis and taking advantage of a change in scheme in 2020 to post a highly productive season. After pressing receivers for most of his career, Rhodes rarely did so in Indianapolis, instead playing off the ball and pressing receivers on just 7.1 percent of coverage snaps (as opposed to a 31.3 percent press rate in his final season with the Vikings, a campaign in which he allowed a passer rating of 128.5). Rhodes’ improvement was swift and drastic, jumping from a +18.4 percent catch rate allowed over expectation in 2019 (worst in the NFL) to a catch rate allowed below expectation of -12.6 percent in 2020 (third-best among qualifiers for this list). He also pivoted from a targeted EPA of +39.1 (fifth-worst in the NFL) to -17.8 in 2020 (eighth-best). Rhodes made a home on the right side in Indianapolis, spending over 87 percent of his coverage snaps on that portion of the field, and it paid off immensely for him in 2020.
The former Minnesota Vikings’ All-Pro resurrected his career in Indianapolis with a standout 2020 season. During his debut campaign for the Colts, Rhodes recorded 42 tackles (35 solo), 2 interceptions, and 12 passes defensed in all 16 starts.
He benefited from the defensive scheme transition to more zone coverage and a reunion with former Colts defensive backs coach Jonathan Gannon (*now the Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator) from his prior shutdown cornerback Minnesota days.
Per PFF, Rhodes was their 9th best graded cornerback last season with a +77.3 overall grade.
Specifically, Rhodes was targeted 80 times for 41 receptions (51.3% completion rate), 524 receiving yards, 4 touchdowns, 2 interceptions, 10 pass breakups, and an allowed passer rating of 78.3.
After his stalwart year, the 30 year old veteran cornerback re-signed with the Colts on a 1-year, $6.5 million deal. The starting right cornerback should once again help solidify the Colts secondary—leaving ‘Rhodes closed’ in Indianapolis for a consecutive season.