Jim Nagy has been a fan of Nate Hobbs for a quite a while and the longtime scout is thrilled to see the cornerback from Illinois enjoy the preseason success he has had for the Las Vegas Raiders.
Simply put, the fifth-round pick has been the story of the preseason for the Raiders. He has made dynamic plays in both preseason games and has made an impact in practice since offseason workouts. The rookie very likely will be Las Vegas’ Week 1 starting nickel cornerback.
That thrills Nagy. Yet, it also eats at him because it reminds Nagy — the executive director of the Reese’s Senior Bowl — of a great mistake.
“Nate is my biggest regret of last season,” Nagy told Silver and Black Pride. “We will learn from it.”
Hobbs was on Nagy and his staff’s radar in their early 2021 Senior Bowl roster projections for months, as illustrated by this June 2020 tweet:
.@IlliniFootball went to first bowl game since ‘14 last year and Lovie Smith returns two ascending @seniorbowl prospects on defense. OLB Milo Eifler is a twitchy high ceiling athlete that flashes and CB Nate Hobbs is aggressive and has NFL cover skills. #TheDraftStartsInMOBILE pic.twitter.com/p1nLYlj4zS— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) June 16, 2020
In fact, Hobbs was near the top of the Senior Bowl’s cornerback board throughout the fall.
“I would go on radio shows and podcasts last season and people would ask me who was my under-the-radar guy for the draft and would say ‘Nate Hobbs, that guy is talented,’” Nagy said. “Then, we didn’t have him in our game. It still bothers me.”
What happened? Why wasn’t Hobbs playing in Mobile, Alabama, in the prestigious college all-star game in January?
“Honestly, there wasn’t much interest from teams in Nate,” Nagy said. “I look at our job [like] we’re basically working for the 32 GMs. We want to stock our rosters with guys that want. But Nate should have been in our game. We need to stick to our guns and we learn from that.”
Nagy thinks there was a couple of reasons why there wasn’t much interest from teams in seeing Hobbs in Mobile. First, they were all familiar with his game tape from playing in the competitive Big Ten Conference and may have opted to see corners from smaller schools. Secondly, Nagy knows some teams want to hide certain prospects from other teams and don’t want to promote them before the draft. Nagy said that may have been the case with Hobbs.
Either way, Nagy vows to learn from the Hobbs’ omission.
“I take the blame, we just have to stick to our guns, like I said,” Nagy said. “I knew Nate would translate to the NFL. He is a long cornerback and is easy moving and has a burst. It’s hard to find long corners who are so aggressive and Nate is certainly that. I hope he has a long career.”