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Raiders, Nate Hobbs, Alex Leatherwood, Jon Gruden

2 best moves by the Las Vegas Raiders in the 2021 NFL Draft

The Las Vegas Raiders added seven players to the team’s active 2021 roster after the 2021 NFL Draft. Whether or not all seven ultimately make the team’s final 53-man roster remains to be seen, as this offseason for the Raiders could get interesting in a hurry with the once heralded AFC West franchise looking to bounce back in a big way.

Even with many almost immediately criticizing the Raiders’ group of incoming rookies, general manager Mike Mayock and head coach Jon Gruden are not necessarily known for their conventional style of compiling a roster. However, Mayock and Gruden definitely did some good things last month, as at least two of the team’s seven 2021 NFL Draft picks should be chalked up as solid decisions by the front office.

After selecting former Alabama Crimson Tide offensive tackle Alex Leatherwood in the first round, much to the confusion of many, the Raiders then followed that move up with the selections of safety Trevon Moehrig in the second, defensive end Malcolm Koonce and defensive back Divine Deablo in the third, safety Tyree Gillespie in the fourth, defensive back Nate Hobbs in the fifth and center Jimmy Morrissey in the seventh and final round.

2. Drafting former Illinois Fighting Illini CB Nate Hobbs in Round 5, Pick 167

The Oakland Raiders were always categorized as a mean and stout team that the opposition didn’t want to play. Despite moving to “Sin City,” they have seemingly become less scary over the course of the last several seasons as head coach Jon Gruden unfortunately has this team headed in the wrong direction at the present moment.

With the Raiders selecting a whopping five defensive players and four defensive backs from the 2021 NFL Draft, it’s pretty obvious that Las Vegas has its eyes set on improving on the defensive side of the football heading into the 2021 campaign.

Because of the volume in which the Raiders were selecting soon-to-be rookie cornerback, former Illinois Fighting Illini Nate Hobbs, who came off the board in the fifth round, may have gotten lost in the shuffle.

However, Hobbs was arguably the Raiders’ best pick of the 2021 NFL Draft, as Las Vegas has retained a player that is skilled, well-rounded and versatile–all while finding some serious value in the latter portion of the annual event. At 6’0″ and around 200 pounds, Hobbs can no doubt help stop the run. Not to mention he also possesses the ability to break up passes and make tackles in the open field.

In 38 career games as a member of the Fighting Illini, Hobbs tallied 110 solo tackles, 166 total tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, one sack, three interceptions, 11 pass defenses, one fumble recovery and two forced fumbles. Keep an eye out for Hobbs to make plays throughout the offseason while the first-year defensive back may even make an impact for the Raiders as a rookie in 2021-22.

1. Selecting Former Alabama Crimson Tide OT Alex Leatherwood in Round 1, Pick 17

In what has since been casted as quite the controversial decision, the Las Vegas Raiders selected former Alabama Crimson Tide offensive tackle Alex Leatherwood with the No. 17 overall pick in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Many initially believed that Leatherwood came off the board way too early, as the Raiders could have seemingly snagged the former collegiate standout in the second round as well.

Nonetheless, the 6’5″ blocker is now officially a member of the Raiders, which may not be a bad thing. Thanks to his size, as Leatherwood weighs well over 300 pounds, and experience atop the highest level of college football as a member of the Crimson Tide, the soon-to-be rookie offensive tackle should be able to slot in right away for Las Vegas in 2021.

Like every rookie, Leatherwood will certainly need some work, but that’s what practice and an entire offseason are for as every first-year NFL player goes through growing pains. The only issue here will be the fact that the Raiders potentially reached on Leatherwood, which has already placed him under a massive microscope.

On the other hand, the Raiders went out and took a player that filled an important need for a team looking to rebound. Leatherwood will almost certainly begin the upcoming campaign as the team’s starting right tackle. In addition to Leatherwood, the team also employ right guard Denzelle Good, center Andre James, left guard Richie Incognito and left tackle Kolton Miller in addition to veteran interior offensive lineman Nick Martin.

Even before the 2021 NFL Draft, many were keeping an eye on the Raiders offensive line as the team infamous traded away standout center Rodney Hudson to the Arizona Cardinals earlier this offseason.