CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- The autumn wind will now permanently be a Raider for Nate Hobbs.
With the 167th overall pick, in the fifth round of the 2021 NFL Draft, Illinois cornerback Nate Hobbs on Saturday. For the first time in five years, Illinois has had multiple players selected in the same draft year.
Hobbs was a four-year starter who played in 39 games for Lovie Smith’s Illini defense where he accumulated 168 total tackles, 18 pass deflections, 12.5 tackles for loss and three touchdowns in his college career.
Hobbs improved his draft stock at Illinois' Pro Day with an impressive 40-yard dash time of 4.38 seconds and a 40.5-inch vertical. He also had a 3.9-second time in the shuttle run and accomplished 17 bench reps of 225 pounds.
Hobbs started five games at cornerback as a senior leader during the 2020 campaign after missing three games due to an injury. Hobbs was a three-star recruit out of Louisville, Kentucky in the 2017 recruiting class and earned All-Big Ten Conference freshman team honors following 10 starts at cornerback that included 48 tackles, two TFLs, one sack, two pass breakups and one forced fumble.
“Hobbs has average size, quick feet and good top-end speed,” ESPN draft analyst Steve Muench said. “He has shorter arms and is not a playmaker in coverage. He's willing to step up in run support and has some experience returning kicks.”
The Raiders, who are in their second season in Las Vegas and third season under head coach Jon Gruden, have selected four defensive backs (TCU safety Trevon Moehrig, Virginia Tech safety Divine Deablo and Missouri safety Tyree Gillespie) in the first five rounds of this 2021 draft but Hobbs is the first cornerback. Las Vegas is expected to bring back a crowded cornerback room full of projected starters Trayvon Mullen (23-year-old, third-year veteran from Clemson), Damon Arnette (24-year-old, former 2019 first-round pick from Ohio State) and Isaiah Johnson (25-year-old third-year veteran from Houston).
Hobbs is the seventh player from Illinois to be selected by the Raiders franchise and the first since 2016 when Jihad Ward was picked in the second round with the 44th overall pick.
Hobbs, along with 2021 third-round pick Kendrick Green, played a large role in organizing a Black Lives Matter march for Illini student-athletes on Aug. 31, 2020. Hobbs had 31 tackles, two TFLs, one interception returned 26 yards in the 2020 season that led to him being named a Phil Steele Preseason All-Big Ten third team selection.