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How rookie Nate Hobbs is turning heads at OTAs and minicamp

Nate Hobbs already told everyone what to expect from him when he was drafted by the Raiders two months ago.

"I play with passion, I play with want-to, and when I'm on the field I'm going to enforce my will," said rookie cornerback Nate Hobbs during his introductory conference call.

"They're getting the best underdog they've ever drafted."

Hobbs' ambitious comments have seemed to ring true early this offseason. The former Fighting Illini has grabbed the attention of the Silver and Black coaching staff – and his teammate Trayvon Mullen.

"I feel like he's going to be really talented," Mullen said. "He practices hard; he goes through his drills really well. I like the way he approaches practice. I feel like he's going to be a real good player for us as long as he just keeps his mentality up and keeps going hard every day."

Hobbs has received a large amount of snaps this offseason at the nickel cornerback position, a starting position up for grabs since safety Lamarcus Joyner left the desert for the New York Jets. While defensive coordinator Gus Bradley has expressed satisfaction with Nevin Lawson and Amik Robertson at the position, the poise that Hobbs has come in with as a rookie has been a pleasant surprise for him.

"The guy that's probably really jumped out at us is [Nate] Hobbs," said Gus Bradley. "Very impressed with him. I think he's come in with a real good knowledge of the position, so his learning curve has really jumped up."

Head Coach Jon Gruden confirmed Wednesday afternoon that Hobbs status as a rookie fifth-round pick won't affect his decision on who he puts on the field.

"The best guys are going to play," said Gruden. "I don't care if it's Nate Hobbs and Amik Robertson. I don't care what round they came in, we're going to play the best four to five guys. The players will decide that."

Hobbs had a lot of success playing the nickel cornerback position in his four years in the Big Ten. He compiled 110 total tackles and 19 pass deflections at Illinois. Going into Training Camp and position battles, it will be exciting to see if "The Great Underdog" can continue to defy the odds.

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