NFL’s Top 100: Xavier Rhodes (#55)

Xavier Rhodes

The Minnesota Vikings have arguably the NFL’s best defense.

Last season, they led the league in fewest points allowed (15.8 ppg) and fewest yards allowed (275.9 ypg), and ranked second in fewest rushing yards allowed (83.6 ypg) and second in fewest passing yards allowed (192.4 ypg).

An argument within that argument that may be more even interesting is just who is the Vikings’ best defensive player.

On their way to a 13-3 record and an appearance in the NFC title game, Minnesota had five defenders named to the Pro Bowl and three were All-Pro.

Up front, there’s Pro Bowl defensive tackle Linval Joseph and All-Pro end Everson Griffen. Lining up behind them is Pro Bowl linebacker Anthony Barr and linebacker Eric Kendricks, who made Sports Illustrated’s Top 10 linebacker ranking for 2018. And in the secondary there’s safety Harrison Smith and cornerback Xavier Rhodes, each of whom were first team All-Pro.

The case for Rhodes — who was voted No. 55 on this year’s NFL Network’s Top 100 ranking — centers around the value of cornerbacks in the league today. A shutdown corner like Rhodes is just as much of a difference-maker as a pass-rusher like Griffen; both positions are very much en vogue currently.

Last season, Rhodes made 56 tackles, 10 pass breakups and two interceptions.

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