With the 2022 NFL season officially starting on Thursday, the Las Vegas Raiders have training camp and preseason in the rearview mirror, though expectations have never been higher. The team as a whole should see great strides across the board with a new coaching staff that emphasizes discipline and eliminates mistakes.
The brain trust of general manager Dave Ziegler, head coach Josh McDaniels, and a plethora of additional contributors have put together a star-filled complementary roster, which should be a high-performance machine.
Who is poised for a breakout?
These three players are going to be major factors in determining just how far the Raiders may go this season. Some of them are young, and some of them are veterans. However, these are the players most people can anticipate a lot more from.
Las Vegas Raiders Potential Breakout Star No. 1 – Nate Hobbs
According to Pro Football Focus in 2021, Nate Hobbs was the best cornerback in the AFC as a rookie, in the nickel corner position. Quite possibly the most difficult position to play and solidify in today’s NFL. This offseason, Hobbs had the benefit of working with not only the best slot receiver in football, Hunter Renfrow, but he also worked primarily against Davante Adams.
Jaire Alexander, in my humble opinion, is the closest comparison in terms of skill jump to what Hobbs can be envisioned as. At least that’s the time-honored overused cliche: “Iron sharpens iron.” Hobbs was elite as a rookie, and he significantly upgraded his training partners this offseason. The biggest jump in any player’s career is always from year one to year two. Should this hold true for Hobbs, expect something special.
Las Vegas Raiders Potential Breakout Star No. 2 – Trevon Moehrig
Moehrig had a strong rookie season in 2021. In Gus Bradley’s Cover 3 scheme, his responsibilities were simple and allowed him to read and react. He’s a willing tackler with good range and an ability to close on the football in the air. On top of that, Moehrig has big-play potential, and he just needs to execute.
Under the guidance of defensive coordinator Patrick Graham, Moehrig’s strengths will be maximized. Putting him in a position to make plays via superior scheme design is better than relying on him to play centerfield and hoping he becomes Earl Thomas from the Legion of Boom. An improved pass rush and a much better secondary will free up Moehrig to do more ball hawking rather than space coverage.
Las Vegas Raiders Potential Breakout Star No. 3 – Divine Deablo
The best name in all of football. Deablo has the potential to play like his namesake on the football field. Evolution has dictated a change of player types at the linebacker position. Deablo is the prototype of the future. He has the size, the speed, and the coverage ability of a former strong safety. In addition, he’s got the hit stick of a thumper to boot.
Deablo took Cory Littleton’s job from him down the stretch last season, and the run defense improved instantly. He is a physical and disciplined player. There is a lot of potential for Deablo to become a household name as a linebacker in the “trickeration” Graham will be calling on defense for the Raiders.
*Top Photo: Courtesy of NFL.com