A look at breakout candidates
With the Las Vegas Raiders in training camp, let’s take a look at four players who we should expect to take a big leap forward in 2022, presented in alphabetical order.
The 2021 third-round pick flashed as a rookie when given a chance. Deablo, a Virginia Tech product, started five games and made an impact in every start. He had 45 total tackles last season. The new coaching staff has been praising him this offseason. I can see Deablo, a smart, natural playmaker, thriving under new defensive coordinator Patrick Graham and his staff. Don’t be surprised if Deablo quickly becomes one of the league’s brightest young linebackers in 2022.
Hobbs has already arrived. He had a terrific rookie season. The 2021 fifth-round pick became a standout nickel cornerback as a rookie. He was solid all season long. There is a chance he can play outside cornerback in 2022 in the new Las Vegas defensive scheme. Wherever he plays (I’d bet it’s mostly in the slot) expect Hobbs to continue to progress his game and continue to be a consistent playmaker. The Illinois product has big potential and will likely be in the next wave of young players the Raiders will want to retain with a contract extension after his third season.
James took a lot of lumps last season, his first as an NFL starting center. However, he did make progress as the season went on. James is a legitimate NFL starting player and I think he will continue to grow. He is still a young player. I’m not sure if James will become an upper-level NFL center, but we should see improved play from him in 2022.
Like Hobbs, the 2021 second-round pick had an excellent rookie season. So, his next step could be elevating to a Pro Bowl level. I don’t say that lightly, either. Moehrig has all the makings of becoming a top level safety. He is smart, he is often around the ball and has a strong knowledge of the game. He could become a major part of a defensive turnaround in Las Vegas,