Two years ago, Nate Hobbs came on strong as a round five rookie out of Illinois. He did it by grabbing ahold of the slot corner job in training camp and never letting go of it.
He was so good, in fact, that in his second season, the Raiders new coaching staff asked him to do more. In particular, they moved him to the outside. Mostly it was out of necessity, but ultimately it meant they weren’t getting the best work out of Hobbs.
That’s not a knock on Hobbs at all. The slot corner job is not easy. Not a lot of corners in the league can do it well. In part because of the unique coverage responsibilities and in part because of the tackling requirements.
It would appear this Raiders staff learned from that experience. Because despite once again being without two established outside starters, they haven’t been messing around with Hobbs’s position. He is the man in the middle. Just as it should be.
“Yeah, I’m comfortable there,” Hobbs said of playing in the slot. “I get to open my vision, see the field, use my instincts.”
I asked Raiders DB coach Chris Ash if he would say Hobbs has found his niche in the slot for this team.
“Yeah, I would,” Ash said. “I think he has the ability to do anything we need him to, but I think he’s really found a home at that position and has an opportunity with his skillset to really excel there.”
Both Ash and fellow DB coach Jason Simmons agree that Hobbs is talented enough to play anywhere in the secondary. And that may be true. But they know where he his bread and butter is and are wisely keeping him where he makes the greatest impact.