Last Saturday, the Raiders won their first preseason game against the Seahawks by a score of 20-7. This week, they head west to Los Angeles to take on the Rams.
The defense, as a whole, looked very impressive last week. Lets talk about three players who shined last Saturday and may have a big week against the Rams.
Hobbs is one of the most exciting young players on this Raiders roster. He is an electric rookie that the organization was fortunate enough to pick up this offseason. As one of the most interesting prospects on the team coming into training camp, he seems to have continued that through the first preseason game. After the game on Saturday, Jon Gruden was quoted saying the following;
‘There’s certain guys that bring juice, they bring something to the game that others, you just can’t explain it, he’s into it all the time… he might be an opening day starter for us… we do like our fifth round pick.’
Those are some real honors for the fifth-round pick to be getting after his first preseason game. After seeing Hobbs make plays like this though, you can’t really blame Gruden for his excitement;
Nate Hobbs got RIGHT to the QB 😯
— The MMQB (@theMMQB) August 15, 2021
Hobbs played a terrific game last week, and he’s a player who very well could earn a starting role this season. That will largely depend on how he performs this week, so he’s definitely a player Raiders’ fans need to keep an eye on.
Javin entered training camp this year with a simple goal: to earn a spot in the linebacker rotation.
White got the start in the team’s first preseason game last week and didn’t disappoint. White finished with a team-high six tackles, and Gruden had lots of praise for him; “I’m really proud of him… his speed, his recognition is improving and he’s off to a good start tonight.”
— Sanjit T. (@Sanjit__T) August 19, 2021
It seems both Cory Littleton and Nicholas Morrow will hold a starting spot. The last starting linebacker position will likely be held by Tanner Muse or Nick Kwiatkoski, so it’s going to be very hard for White to grab one of those spots. If he’s able to play well this week and in the last preseason game, however, he could very well vault his name into that conversation.
The Raiders selected Koonce with their third-round pick this year. He’s another young, electric player who will be fighting for playing time amongst this linebacker core.
Koonce isn’t just a linebacker though. He can cover the pass, which makes him valuable as a linebacker. He’s able to do that because of his speed, and that speed makes him a dangerous edge rusher for this team as well. He’s a versatile player who can have several different roles on this defense, and I’m very excited to see which of those roles Gus Bradley will use him in.
“Malcolm Koonce is the best player out of the Buffalo program since Khalil Mack” pic.twitter.com/8x6Gl3MJFx
— Raider Nation Boston (@RaiderNationBOS) May 4, 2021
As you can see in the clip above, Koonce is exceptional at rushing the passer. He uses his speed to fly around the field, and he’s an excellent ball-swarmer at the linebacker position. He’s a dual-threat player who had some impressive moments during Saturday’s game against the Seahawks. His adjustment from college to the NFL is one that will be very interesting to watch.
*Top Photo: Courtesy of the Official Raiders website