Though he was injured for nearly all of his rookie season, Raiders safety Johnathan Abram will make an instant impact in 2020.
The Oakland Raiders made Johnathan Abram their third of three first round picks during the 2019 NFL Draft, and it did not take him long to make a statement. As the Raiders were profiled on HBO's Hard Knocks, Abram took to center stage, showing an incredible personality, and the kind of hard-hitting style this defensive backfield was lacking.
When the games finally matters, Abram was all over the field, keying a Raiders Monday Night Football victory against rival Denver inside the Coliseum. After tallying five tackles and one pass defended, Abram made a name for himself at the NFL level, as he was flying all over the field and hitting Broncos with force.
Unfortunately, Abram also tore his rotator cuff and labrum in the game, and had to be placed on injured reserve a few days later. Sitting out his entire rookie season after that injury, Abram had a lot of time to watch and learn at the NFL level, which should serve him well as the team transitions to Las Vegas.
With Abram out of the lineup, Erik Harris stepped up big time, and is a big part of what this secondary is going to be moving forward. Fellow starter Karl Joseph had one of his better seasons with the team, but as a pending free agent, and with Abram returning, he may be the odd man out of a position group that will bring back Lamarcus Joyner in 2020.
During his time at Mississippi State, Abram developed a knack for making punishing hits, leading to him not only being a First-Team All-SEC selection, but also a Third-Team All-American. He plays the game the right way, is extremely smart on the defensive side of the ball, and is the kind of player who epitomizes the Silver and Black.
Entering 2020, expect Abram to be at full strength, and ready to become a leader on the defensive side of the ball for the Raiders. With youngsters at safety, and cornerback, including Daryl Worley, Isaiah Johnson, Trayvon Mullen, and Keisean Nixon, all of a sudden this is an exciting defensive backfield.
No matter who lines up alongside him in 2020, Abram is set in stone as a starting safety for this team for the foreseeable future, and will bring with him the kind of tenacity that will make him an impact player next season. The Las Vegas Raiders will be looking for superstars, and personalities, and in Abram, they will find both.