Nate Hobbs: Motivation of being an underdog
When Raiders Head Coach Jon Gruden likes a player the world will know about it. Gruden isn’t shy about expressing love for those “Gruden Grinders” which he has defined as guys who love the game of football and don’t let any obstacle stop them from achieving their football story.
When the Raiders drafted cornerback Nate Hobbs out of Illinois in the fifth round he called his shot immediately calling himself “The biggest underdog the Raiders have ever drafted.” When you watch Hobbs play that demeanor seems to follow him everywhere as he is a guy that carries an enormous chip on his shoulders. He’s an undersized corner, not the biggest or fastest guy. However, his heart speaks volumes.
“I’m really proud of him. I’m really excited to see what he does in his future,” Gruden said of Hobbs. “We tried to summarize him a couple of days ago. He has the ‘it’ factor, he rarely makes the same mistake twice, he loves football, and he eats it up. He’s one of the energizers of our defense. He’s walked in here and given us a lot of skills that we can utilize certainly.”
Hobbs has shown that grit all through training camp and he put that on full display in the Raiders second preseason game. He had 4 tackles and the play of the game with a beautiful interception. Hobbs' performance earned him a game ball but in the grand scheme of things it may have earned him the Raiders starting nickel position.
“I just shuffled, I saw one sit down and two kept going up the seam, so I just climbed,” Hobbs recalled of the play. “I don’t even think it’s in the playbook, but I was just trying to be a football player and I saw the ball come out of the quarterback’s hands and ran to the receiver and looked up and the ball was there.”
Hobbs has really shown a great nose for the football and his instincts seem to always be right. Raiders have always struggled on third down defense. Hobbs had two nice tackles on the Rams’ first drive, including one on third down to force a punt. And later he had a pass breakup as well.
After last week's preseason game Gruden teased at the idea of Hobbs being the opening day starter after yesterday’s performance he snatched the job. Through much of camp, Nevin Lawson has been the starter at the nickel spot. Leaving the competition seemingly between Hobbs and Amik Robertson. Hobbs has now put some distance between him and Robertson in that competition. Unluckily, for Lawson he’s suspended the first two games. As we know the NFL is the ultimate next man up game. And, Hobbs the underdog has certainly earned his spot.