The progression of Raiders safety Johnathan Abram
When we talk about Abram, we’re talking about a hard-hitting safety who plays the run well and presents pass-rushing skills. Over his 28 career starts, the aggressive defensive back has been trusted to rush the quarterback 61 times, totaling 7 QB knockdowns.
If we’re talking about Abram’s progression over the years, there’s good news and not-so-good news. We’ll start with the positives.
The good news: Every season he’s been in the NFL, Johnathan Abram has taken steps forward. He continues to focus on mastering his craft and has worked hard to maximize the abilities of his strengths.
The not-so-good news: This means next to nothing.
While it is absolutely true Abram’s game has steadily improved since being drafted, it couldn’t have started much worse. In his rookie season, the 205lb safety appeared in only one game before missing the rest of the season with an injury. In that one game, Abram proved to bring the aggressiveness he had at Mississippi State into the pros, flying around the field and forcing big collisions with ball carriers.
It didn’t take long to realize what some chalked up as Abram being an aggressive hitter was actually the first-round pick being reckless with his body. There wasn’t a good understanding of circumstance here, as the young defensive back was constantly looking to punish the ball carrier at all times. This not only led to blown plays but also missing serious time nursing injuries.
This was something Abram had no choice but to work on; The big hits are always exciting to watch, but there’s a time and place for them, and going for them in the wrong situation can make you a liability to the team. To Abram’s credit, it seems the safety wearing Charles Woodson’s legendary 24 is finally starting to understand this.
Ultimately, this has resulted in his missed tackle percentage getting lower and lower each year, ending with a career low of 10.8% last season.
Playing more than one game in a season gave fans a chance to see the outline of Abram’s skill set and what he brings to the table. Unfortunately, the thing fans saw the most was bonehead penalties.
in the 13 games the now second-year safety played in, Abram committed 6 penalties, for a total of 62 yards given up. Amazingly, this was actually an improvement from the pace he was on from his one game during his rookie campaign, where he had two flags thrown at him, costing the Raiders 19 yards.
Again, to Abram’s credit, this is something he seemed to take a massive leap in. This past season, Las Vegas’ starting strong safety committed just 2 penalties in 14 contests, combining for a total of 18 yards.
Although still yet to record a career sack, the numbers indicate Abram was more efficient rushing the passer than he was in 2020 as well.
In the ’20 season, Abram got to the quarterback 4 times on 47 blitzes. This past season, that 47 was cut in half with just 23 rushes, yet still was able to knock down the quarterback 3 times – A pace of 6 QB knockdowns, which would’ve been 33% more than 2020.
Throughout all of Abram’s progression, there’s one thing he hasn’t improved much with: Coverage. That’s where Harmon comes in.