Despite a rocky start to the 2022 season, the Las Vegas Raiders have seen two of their young cornerbacks blossom recently. Second-year defender Nate Hobbs and third-year cornerback Amik Robertson have quietly put together exceptional performances in back-to-back games. So much so that the likes of Pro Football Focus have given both Hobbs and Robertson top-10 coverage grades among all NFL cornerbacks. Let’s take a closer look in this trending Raiders news story.
To figure out how these two young CBs have gotten so much praise, we’ll look at the window of opportunity that has opened for them, how Patrick Graham’s new scheme has helped them, and some areas where they need to improve to keep growing.
The Raiders Secondary 🔥🔥
The Las Vegas Raiders feature 2 CBs in the top 10 of all CBs in PFF coverage grading through 2 games
Nate Hobbs – 79.6 (8th in the league)
Amik Robertson – 77.9 (10th in the league)
— RaiderRamble.com™ (@TheRaiderRamble) September 19, 2022
Raiders News: An Opportunity Presented Itself
Prior to Week 1, the new regime of Dave Ziegler and Josh McDaniels presumably felt good with how their cornerback room had taken form. Following the trade involving Trayvon Mullen that sent him to Arizona, the Raiders entered the season with newly acquired Rock Ya-Sin and Anthony Averett locking down the two outside CB spots. Nate Hobbs and Amik Robertson went in as the third and fourth corners, respectively. That all changed in Week 1. It was revealed that Averett had suffered a broken thumb. That injury landed him on the Injured Reserve, with an absence of four weeks forthcoming.
With Averett’s injury, it was then up to both Hobbs and Robertson to answer the call on Sunday. The two young defenders not only answered the call, but they have done well with the chance they have been given. Robertson made his first interception of his career in the first half against Arizona, for example.
It will be up to this pair to continue finding success in the absence of playmakers. If they can continue this run of quality play, Averett may have trouble prying his starting role back.
An Improved Scheme
While Graham does dabble in a little bit of Gus Bradley-esque Cover 3, he runs a far more diverse scheme than his predecessor does. So, Hobbs and Robertson have gotten the opportunity to see how their play styles translate to the current staff’s wishes. Utilizing lots of Cover 6 on early downs and Cover 0 on blitzing/short yardage downs, the duo has become a force in both Man and Zone concepts.
Not only has the improved scheme given the Raiders defense as a whole more flexibility, but it has allowed the secondary more wiggle room when switching from concept to concept. Putting his players in the best position possible has worked well for Graham so far. Thankfully, his young cornerback duo benefited tremendously by being played to their strengths.
There’s still room to grow for this Raiders’ duo
Despite the love they have both received, I am a firm believer that there is always room to grow. When it comes to Hobbs, I believe he is very technical and has above-average instruction on and off the ball. That being said, Hobbs can sometimes become too aggressive mid-route. Hauling in two defensive holding penalties against Arizona is a tough pill to swallow, as he was otherwise fantastic. An easy problem to fix, but something that is notable enough to need work.
On the other hand, Amik has more of an uphill battle, as his issue stems from his natural build. Clocking in at 5’8″, Amik has struggled against big-bodied receivers throughout his entire career. Despite this, Amik has shown excellent skill and technique playing off-ball through the first two games. He even using his instincts to lure Cardinals quarterback, Kyler Murray, into a bad interception.
Raider Nation should expect the increased playing time and experience to benefit both Hobbs and Robertson in their respective development. The Raiders should also feel their cornerback depth is in good hands with this duo, unlike some other position groups.
*Top Photo: Official Raiders YouTube Channel