Nate Hobbs Raiders Mailbag

Raiders Mailbag: Most surprising player to make the 53? Improved defense in 2022?

Welcome back, Raider Nation. After a post-draft hiatus, I’m back answering your Las Vegas Raiders-related questions – and I’m here to stay all season long. Cheers to this season’s first Raiders mailbag.

This week, fans didn’t shy away from telling me what’s on their mind. Will the team’s defense improve in 2022? Can Jesper Horsted make a legitimate impact in 2023? Who will be the most surprising player to make the Silver and Black’s 53-man roster?

I’ll answer all of these, and more.

If you have any questions for me, you can submit them by messaging me on Twitter/X (@AlexMonfreda), emailing me (, or, by commenting on my weekly Raiders mailbag tweet asking for your questions.

Let’s get into it.

Answering your Las Vegas Raiders-related questions

Q: Last year we seen the team shuffling OL thru the first quarter of the season. Is there a position group this season that sorts out that late into Fall of ’23?

A: If we do, it’s going to be the cornerback position. Contrary to belief, this unit is quite deep; the same tune I’ve been singing all offseason (you can find my in-depth analysis on the group, here). Marcus Peters and Nate Hobbs are almost certainly starters, but who’s the third starting cornerback? More importantly, will Hobbs play inside or outside? These are things that will likely be tested for a good part of the season.

Q: Is the defense better than last year? If so, can you put a % or range where you think they will end up?

A: Oh yeah; they’ll be better. Tre’von Moehrig was a stud in 2021 as a deep-safety, but swapped to a utility role in 2022 and took a step backwards. However, now paired with Marcus Epps – who is the only safety to have a top-10 grade against the run via Pro Football Focus in both ’21 and ’22 – Moehrig can return to that coverage role.

Marcus Peters and Duke Shelley are also two monster additions. The Raiders were tied at last in interceptions this past seasons, so they brought in Peters, who’s recorded an interception each season he’s played. Duke Shelley was the fourth-highest graded corner in coverage one year ago. Oh – don’t forget Jakorian Bennett, who I’ve been raving about since the night of the draft. See my detailed comparison of him and first-round pick Deonte Banks, here.

Where they’ll rank? 10-20 range. P.S. Tyree Wilson will help change the Raiders’ defense, too.

More questions

Q: Who will be the most surprising player to make the 53-man roster?

A: That’s a tough one. I’d have to go with.. Phillip Dorsett and DeAndre Carter, if those are surprises. McDaniels doesn’t traditionally carry six receivers, but it feels like he’ll have no choice this season. Adams, Renfrow, Meyers, Tucker, Carter and Dorsett sound good to me; although it wouldn’t be a big surprise if only one of those two make it. If neither make it, however, I’d be shocked.

Q: Do you think the offense will have a little more continuity and creativity in McDaniels’ second year?

A: Absolutely! McDaniels’ offense is all about familiarity, which is why he traded for former Patriot Jarrett Stidham last offseason, and brought in former Patriot Brian Hoyer this time around. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much familiarity last season, which is why Derek Carr had his worst campaign as a pro, and why the Raiders signed a seemingly-infinite amount of former New England players this summer – including QB1, Jimmy Garoppolo.

Q: Do you believe Jesper Horsted can be a legitimate contributor in 2023?

A: This is a complicated question. Do I think he can be a legitimate contributor? Absolutely. Do I believe he’ll get enough play time to be a legitimate contributor? Barring injuries, no. I am high on Horsted as a player, though; you can find my detailed analysis on him, here.

Tune in next week for another Raiders mailbag.

*Top Photo: Michael Owens/Getty Images

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