INDIANAPOLIS — Signed by the Colts to a free agent deal on Friday, All-Pro cornerback Xavier Rhodes today joined Colts.com's Matt Taylor to chat about what he brings to the table as a player and a leader, as well was reuniting with a couple former coaches from his time with the Minnesota Vikings.
Here are some highlights from that conversation, which you can listen to in its entirety above:
» Rhodes will be reuniting with two former coaches instrumental to his success with the Vikings: Alan Williams (safeties) and Jonathan Gannon (cornerbacks), the Colts' two secondary coaches, were both with the Vikings during Rhodes' time in Minnesota; Williams was Rhodes' defensive coordinator his rookie season in 2013, while Gannon was the Vikings' assistant defensive backs coach from 2014-17.
It was under Williams' and Gannon's tutelage that Rhodes was able to improve with each season since entering the league as a first-round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. From 2013 to 2017, in fact, Rhodes never had a season with fewer than 48 tackles and 10 passes defensed, and in 2016 he had a career year with five interceptions, one of which he returned 100 yards for a touchdown. That led to Rhodes being selected First-Team All-Pro in 2017.
Rhodes thinks having both Williams and Gannon on the Colts' staff will be a major advantage.
"It'll be a key factor, because those guys know the type of player I am and they know my strengths, and they've actually seen my work ethic and the things that really works for me," he said. "So we're going to work around that, and also they know how much of a professional I am and how much knowledge of the game I have. So they basically spoke to me and they look forward to me just being able to play my ball, play my style, and also coaching the young guys."
Gannon, specifically, left an impression on Rhodes.
"He was just there, and he would listen to the players, hear us out, because he understood the game knowing that we were out there on the field and we see the changes and the checks and the calls that the quarterback makes and the routes that the receivers are running against us," Rhodes said. "So he was always asking us in meetings when I was in Minnesota what do we see, how can we change, how can we get better as a secondary. And by that, you want a coach like that on your side because you're trying to understand the player, and that's how you can get better as a team and as a team and as a segment."
» Rhodes brings size, speed and physicality: All three of those traits are coveted for cornerbacks in the Colts' defensive system. And at 6-foot-1 and 218 pounds and sporting 4.43-second 40-yard dash speed, Rhodes should fit in just fine, particularly lined up on the outside.
And, like all good cornerbacks, Rhodes also enjoys playing mind games with the receiver lined up across from him.
"Everyone knows I'm big. I'm a big, physical guy, and I like to get guys at the line of scrimmage," Rhodes said when asked to describe his game. "And I'm not only physical, I'm pretty fast, so I'm looking forward to just getting in the guy's face and slowing the timing down, messing with the timing between the receiver and the quarterback and making the quarterback make tough throws and tough decisions."
In his seven NFL seasons, Rhodes has collected 372 total tackles (15 for a loss) with 10 interceptions (one returned for a touchdown), 73 passes defensed and three forced fumbles.
Since 2013, only Logan Ryan has put up those kind of numbers at the cornerback position, according to Pro-Football-Reference.com.
How does Rhodes do it? And how will he continue that trend in Indy?
"Just being me," he said. "Believing in myself, believing in the coaches and believing in my teammates. Allowing me to be myself, so once I get there — like I said, Coach Gannon and Alan (Williams) knows me best, and I believe they're gonna let me play my game and be physical and be who I am."
» Rhodes is excited about the prospect of both playing a key defensive role and coaching up the younger guys: The Colts feature a very young, but talented, group of defensive backs — most notably guys like Rock Ya-Sin, Marvell Tell III and Khari Willis, all of whom will be entering their second seasons in 2020.
Rhodes, who turns 30 in June, knows the importance of having solid veteran leadership on the defensive side of the ball.
But he also knows he won't have to do it alone. Rhodes is one of four Colts defensive players — DeForest Buckner, Justin Houston and Darius Leonard the others — to have earned All-Pro honors at some point of their career, giving the unit elite talent at all three levels.
"It's great to have those types of guys on the defense, because they know what it takes to win, they know what it takes to be the best," Rhodes said. "We can teach the younger guys how to be pros, how to be professionals and how to get to that level, and once you have a whole team of guys wanting to work that hard and accomplish that and we're all on one page and one accord, the sky's the limit."
Accordingly, Rhodes is ready to get going with his new teammates — as soon as they're able to, of course.
"Just joining the guys," Rhodes said when asked what he's looking forward to most about signing with the Colts. "The coaches seem excited and are willing to have me there with the guys, and also just being a vet on the team, just being to coach the young guys and trying to get these guys, trying to get the organization, to the playoffs and the Super Bowl."
See the best images of free agent cornerback Xavier Rhodes as he signs with the Indianapolis Colts.