If there's a common theme for the road new Raiders cornerback Nate Hobbs took to the NFL, it has to be "adversity."
The No. 167 pick out of Illinois overcame much just to get to his phone call from Coach Jon Gruden on Saturday afternoon. Hobbs went from being an under-sought high school prospect from Louisville, Kentucky, to scratching for snaps at the University of Illinois. He believes that the adversity he's had to go through to get to being drafted has made him ready for this opportunity.
"A lot of people didn't know who I was, and I got on the scene quick and made the most of that," Hobbs said, reflecting on his journey to the draft. "Got to college. I wasn't a high recruit; I was about a two-star, only had one Power-5 offer. I made noise when I was in college that got me to the position where I am now."
The cornerback also has dealt adversity off the field as well. Hobbs' father passed away when he was 12, leading him to help his mother raise his younger siblings with little income coming into the household. Hobbs found great solace in having his uncle and grandmother, who were influential in his life, in place of his deceased father. Sadly, they also passed away while he was attending Illinois.
Hobbs took time to reminisce on what his family meant to him and how they are still with him in spirit.
"I think they'd be really proud of me," said Hobbs. "I know they're proud of me right now. I know they're in Heaven, looking down on me and I know their hands are on me, they're guiding me really. I'm just so happy I could make this happen. It's like fate. My uncle, he used to always tell me I was going to be here when I was in high school, and I didn't know what he was talking about because I've always been an underdog. I've always been a guy who wasn't supposed to be here, but I'm here now."
"I'm just thankful, just so thankful to God and to them that they were in my life and I could do this to make them proud."
When you put on the tape for Hobbs, it's easy to see why Coach Gruden would want to bring Hobbs into the organization. You can see a controlled aggression in Hobbs game — he's quick to the ball and plays the cornerback position with a linebacker mentality.
Hobbs confirmed that he believes the Raiders will try him at the nickel cornerback and he will be ready for task, after compiling 110 total tackles and 19 pass deflections in his fours years with the Fighting Illini.
"I won’t forget the guys who were taken before me" Nate Hobbs
"I went through a lot of adversity in my life, and I think that shows the way I play. I play with passion, I play with want-to, and when I'm on the field I'm going to enforce my will."
Hobbs, of course, will have more adversity on his plate going into training camp for the Las Vegas Raiders. In spite of what comes his way, he's confident that he can handle it and show Raider Nation that he's no average fifth-round pick.
"I won't forget the guys who were taken before me, the guys who I feel like didn't do as much as me but were still picked up. I'm just so thankful for the Raiders for taking a chance. They won't regret it."
"They're getting the best underdog they've ever drafted."
With the 167th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Las Vegas Raiders select cornerback Nate Hobbs.