Las Vegas Raiders defensive back Nate Hobbs is off to a sizzling start this regular season. Following the trade of Trayvon Mullen, it appeared Hobbs would be in store for a larger role. Prior to that transaction, Hobbs was already making waves during training camp as he covered Davante Adams, sharpening his skills and prepping for what was to come. Following Sunday’s performance, it’s clear that Hobbs is on the fast track to a potentially star-making 2022. If you watch a replay of the regular-season opener, Hobbs shut down Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams. It is no easy task but nonetheless shows off his remarkable, fast growth.
However, it’s easy to forget how far Hobbs has come. Defense coordinator Patrick Graham reflected on that when he spoke to the media this week.
Nate Hobbs was destined for good things, but he would need to put in the work.
Even though Graham was coaching the New York Giants’ defense last season, he became familiar with Hobbs during the scouting process. On top of that, Graham recognized his capability from the outset. Though to be fair, he admitted to the future Raiders’ cornerback that it would take some time for him to transition to the NFL. After an impressive first season (playing for Gus Bradley), it looks like Hobbs is living up to his potential under Graham’s guidance. He is taking his game to the next level, playing all over the field, and embracing his role.
“He was a pretty good player last year. I remember when he was [playing] in Illinois, and we obviously evaluated him when I was in New York; I liked him. 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.”
Raiders Blog: Hobbs can only continue to grow in 2022
As a fifth-round selection by the previous Raiders’ regime, Hobbs was seen as the future nickel corner in Bradley’s defense. Back at Illinois, Hobbs was often forced to play corner on the outside. That wasn’t one of his strengths at that time. However, looking back, it’s obvious that Hobbs’ exploits in the slot warranted a look. Now, his story is coming full circle. Under Graham, Hobbs is quickly becoming a star, turning into a disruptive force all over the field. Look for him to do more damage on Sunday versus the Arizona Cardinals.
*Top Photo: Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal