Last year, as a rookie, cornerback Nate Hobbs impressed the coaching staff from the moment he hit the field in the offseason sessions as a fifth-round pick.
That continued into training camp, the preseasons and through the regular season. Hobbs was a surprise standout as a slot cornerback.
Now, one game into playing for a new regime with the Las Vegas Raiders and Hobbs has already impressed the new staff. Hobbs was a standout in the Raiders’ 24-19 loss at the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday.
He was excellent in coverage had a key pass breakup that gave the Raiders a chance to win the game. New Las Vegas defensive coordinator Patrick Graham was happy to see Hobbs’ play adjust to his system. Graham wasn’t surprised because Graham followed Hobbs closely in the lead up to the draft last year when he was in the same role with the New York Giants.
“He was a pretty good player last year. I mean, the thing that I’ve told him just when he was coming out of college, I remember when he’s at Illinois, and we obviously evaluated him when I was at New York and I liked him,” Graham said. “I didn’t know if he was going to be a starter right away, and I’ve told him this, because you get to know these guys through the process. Before I even got a chance to coach him, I’m like, ‘Hey, I’m proud of the fact that you turned yourself into a starter so early.’ And so, just to see his growth from his last year at Illinois, last year here with the Raiders and now as we have him, I’m really proud of him. I think he’s definitely improved. And the thing is, he’s hungry about improving going down the road.”
One of the reasons why Hobbs is so valuable is because he he has shown he can play outside as well as the slot corner spot where he excelled last year. With starter Anthony Averett out with a thumb injury, Hobbs is expected to play a lot outside in the coming week. Graham appreciates Hobbs’ flexibility,
“That’s gonna come up throughout the year in terms of we value defensive players who can play multiple spots just in terms of being able to move them around and see how we’re going to affect the offense,” Graham said. “And one thing about Nate, he’s going to compete. You saw him at a few positions on Sunday, and he did really well. He competed on that last third down, that second to last third down, that was a pretty good play that third and three right there. Really proud of him right there. He was on their go-to-guy, and he made a play. So, real proud of him there, and he just knows that like everybody else were just trying to improve day to day.”