Las Vegas Raiders: Nate Hobbs was born to be a Raider

The Las Vegas Raiders revamped defense will lean heavily on Nate Hobbs in 2023, and he was born to be a Raider.

Nate Hobbs at Allegiant Stadium for Denver Broncos v Las Vegas Raiders
Nate Hobbs at Allegiant Stadium for Denver Broncos v Las Vegas Raiders / Michael Owens/GettyImages
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Raiders CB Hobbs' college journey

As a true freshman at the University of Illinois, he was on the field more than anyone else, leading the entire team in defensive snaps – an incredibly rare thing in college football, especially at a program competing in a prestigious conference like the Big Ten.

Missing a few games as a sophomore (violated team rules) and as a senior (injury), he started every game his junior year at cornerback and posted career high numbers. He carried that momentum from his stand-out third season into a strong finish at Illinois in year four.

While the scouts graded Hobbs as a “bottom of roster or practice squad” type player with a 6th round projection, the Las Vegas scouts saw an authentic Raider in the making.

After Raiders GM Mike Mayock received a promising phone call from a scout at the Illinois Pro Day which immediately led to him binge-watching Hobbs on film, he explained,

"We got him on a Zoom call, and he knocked it out the park. What our coaches do is they challenge him pretty hard mentally. They give him some of our Raider verbiage and they push it out and challenge it back. He got all the concepts immediately…The coaches drilled him. He got an A+ on that drill and we’re sitting back there going; okay, what’s wrong with this picture? A three-year starter in the Big Ten. Tough, competitive. Every one of our scouting grades on him with competes and toughness was at a high end…and then it was the whole group getting together to say, ‘We got to get this guy.” "

Mike Mayock on Hobbs

And they did. They got their guy in the 5th round (using a draft pick they acquired a month earlier when trading long-time Raider Gabe Jackson to Seattle).