The Las Vegas Raiders are counting on former first-round pick Johnathan Abram in 2021, who will need to step up to keep his starting job.
During the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft, the then-Oakland Raiders held three first-round picks, this after trading away the likes of Amari Cooper and Khalil Mack. With those three picks, the Raiders added edge rusher Clelin Ferrell at No. 4 overall and then running back Josh Jacobs with the 24th overall pick.
Three picks later, the Silver and Black added Johnathan Abram, a hard-hitting safety from Mississippi State. Once Abram arrived, he instantly became a star, as his personality took over the team’s run on HBO’s Hard Knocks.
Unfortunately, Abram would suffer a season-ending injury in Week 1 against the Denver Broncos, this after showing that he certainly looked to be worth a first-round pick early on. After a tough 2020 season, Abram is now on the hot seat to step up, especially with all the talent the team brought in around him this offseason.
Raiders brought in talent around Abram at safety
First, the Raiders brought back another former first-round pick of the team, Karl Joseph, in free agency, a player who has the same skill set as Abram. Like Abram, KuJo is a hard-hitting safety and was actually playing his best football as a Raider when he decided to sign with the Cleveland Browns after the 2019 season.
With him back, and the arrival of second-round pick Trevon Moehrig, the safety spot is suddenly full of depth. Remember, new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley can work wonders with the secondary, and he is already moving Abram around, and trying to get the most out of him.
If Las Vegas is to get to the playoffs for the first time since 2016, they have to be much better on defense, and Abram moving in the right direction is paramount to that happening.
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It was clear the Raiders wanted to focus on the defense this offseason in both free agency and the draft, and they brought in a nice haul of players. For Abram, he is going to be a starter in Week 1, but with the talent behind him, he will have to show he has the ability to start if he is to remain in that role.