The Las Vegas Raiders have had a lot of misses in the draft in recent years but one of the best picks the previous regime made was drafting Nate Hobbs in the fifth round of the 2021 NFL Draft. The cornerback out of Illinois was put into the slot for the team last season and quickly became one of the best players at the position. The Raiders made coaching staff changes this offseason but Hobbs appears to still be one of the key pieces on the defense.
With Trayvon Mullen injured, it’s possible that he plays on the outside a bit and not exclusively in the slot. Hobbs wasn’t highly-touted coming out of college and there wasn’t a big deal made out of the Raiders drafting him. At the time, the cornerback said the team got the “best underdog they’ve ever drafted.” If he keeps getting better, he might be correct in his assessment. Despite the early success, Hobbs continues to keep a chip on his shoulder.
“Until I die. Real talk, until I die,” Hobbs said of the chip on his shoulder on Saturday. “Where I’m from, I’m from Louisville, Kentucky, so I never got the chance to see anybody make it that far to the NFL with my own two eyes or personally know somebody. It feels like that in all areas of Louisville, we are a real underrated city. So, growing up there it made me like that. I guess I was a creature of my habitat.”
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Hobbs Named ‘Secret Superstar’
Hobbs is still a bit of a secret for the Raiders but that might not be the case for long. He showed a ton of promise as a rookie and could take a big leap in 2022. Pro Football Focus has been quite high on Hobbs going back to last season and Sam Monson referred to him as a “secret superstar.”
“Hobbs finished his rookie year with a top-10 PFF grade among cornerbacks, grading well in both run defense and coverage,” Monson wrote. “The Raiders’ defensive scheme may have asked a little less of him than some other players, but he allowed only one touchdown all season and 8.5 yards per reception. Hobbs dramatically outperformed his fifth-round draft status and was one of the best rookies in the league last year.”
Hobbs Not Noticing Huge Difference in Year 2
Hobbs is a man of few words and likes the keep the focus on football. He was asked if he’s noticing a big difference in his second year but he still feels like the same player.
“Not really because I feel like in football, especially in the NFL, it’s a what have you done for me lately world, so it’s not about what I did last year,” Hobbs said. “It’s not about what anybody on the team did last year. We got to show what we can bring to the table every day, just be the best version of ourselves.”
Hobbs could end up being one of the most important defensive players for the Raiders for years to come.
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