The Las Vegas Raiders head into training camp with several questions on defense. Among them is whether safety Johnathan Abram can make an impact after missing basically the entire 2019 season?
The defensive backfield for the Raiders had been devoid of talent for quite some time prior to 2019. To start retooling the defense, general manager Mike Mayock and head coach Jon Gruden went to work. They invested one of their first-round selections on Abram, a Third Team America safety, with the 27th pick in 2019.
Abram quickly became a fan favorite with Raider Nation, thanks in large part to being prominently featured on HBO’s Hard Knocks. While long-term, Abram’s attitude will be a welcomed attribute, fans only got a miniature sample of his on-field play. The question now is can he both deliver and remain healthy in 2020 long enough to make an impact?
The Raiders’ Wild Card at Safety
Despite having a good prospect in house, Raiders brass knew the safety position still needed reinforcements. For that reason, management signed veterans Damarious Randall and Jeff Heath in the offseason. Make no mistake though, the first-round pick has expectations to live up to. Scott Bair of NBC Sports said, “He was given the No. 24 for a reason, with coaches believing he could be the next in a long line of excellent Raiders defensive backs to wear those digits.”
What Does Abram Bring To The Table?
The coaching staff seems to believe he’ll be something special and rightfully so. Abram clearly brings a physical style of play with his hits being evidence of that. His attitude certainly reflects leadership qualities, he’ll definitely set the tone and hold those around him accountable. All of that has been missing since the legendary Charles Woodson hung up his cleats.
As Bair alluded to, the Raiders will put Abram’s perceived versatility and talent to use even with the addition of Randall. “…Abram has an opportunity to make a profound impact against the run and pass. He can play in the box or deep center field and will be motivated to realize vast potential after spending most of his rookie season on injured reserve.” With Abram set to rejoin the Raiders in camp, Raider Nation can see if he’s ready to take over at safety.
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*Top Photo: Peter Joneleit/Associated Press