If the Raiders want to have any success this season, they are going to need several young players on defense to step up. That entire side of the ball is pretty unproven, outside of Maxx Crosby, Chandler Jones and Denzel Perryman.
One player that could make a leap this year is second-year cornerback Nate Hobbs. The fifth-round selection from the 2022 NFL Draft was fantastic in the slot last season, but he is expected to play an even bigger role on defense this year.
In a recent article by Benjamin Solak of The Ringer, he wrote about every team’s biggest X-factor for the 2022 season. There is a lot to choose from for the Raiders this season, but Solak picked Hobbs. Here is what he had to say about the sophomore defensive back for the Las Vegas Raiders:
“The shakiest position group may be cornerback, where the new coaching staff is relying on Nate Hobbs—strictly a slot corner last season—to play both inside and out. Hobbs was lights out as a nickel last year, and if that play translates to the outside, the absence of Casey Hayward won’t be as sorely felt. If Hobbs can’t play on the outside, it’s tough to find an answer for WR1s anywhere on the Raiders’ current depth chart.”
Hobbs will likely be the No. 1 cornerback for the Raiders this year, replacing Casey Hayward Jr. His first task will be slowing down Mike Williams in Week 1, but don’t be surprised to see him on Keenan Allen, as well.
If Hobbs can have a breakout season for the Raiders, the defense has a chance to be pretty good. But if he struggles outside of the slot, the Raiders could be in for a lot of shootouts this season with their unproven secondary.