The 2019 first round continues to live in infamy for the Las Vegas Raiders. While Josh Jacobs has been a crucial offensive contributor, the same cannot be said for the other two selections. One of those picks, Johnathan Abram, will now be cleaning out his locker ahead of Sunday’s clash with the Indianapolis Colts.
The update was reported by various outlets today. That includes NFL insider Tom Pelissero and Raiders beat writer Vincent Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Considering the performances that have been put forth by the Raiders’ defense, you knew heads were going to roll. It was just a few days ago that news broke that a roster change was likely imminent, according to ESPN. Just like that, Abram is gone. But what went wrong? There are quite a few reasons that surely played a role in Abram’s release. Let’s examine some causes that led to today’s development.
Johnathan Abram wasn’t improving with the Las Vegas Raiders
When looking at Abram’s play since 2020, there’s not much to point to as evidence that he’s improving. No one will ever debate his big-hitting ability, but he was largely a liability in pass coverage. His Pro Football Focus grades in terms of coverage have been abysmal in that stretch: 30.3, 54.2, and 51.6, respectively. Abram had already surrendered 27 receptions this season, en route to a 92.2 rating for quarterbacks throwing in his direction. Last season, Abram had five touchdowns counted against him. When Patrick Graham came on board, some fans felt optimistic that he would make use of Abram. Unfortunately, his playing time was decreased to the point he had lost his status as a starter. It was just a matter of time. He had been the subject of trade conjecture, but nothing came of it. Instead, the Raiders are cutting their losses.
Abram has been outplayed by Duron Harmon this season
Duron Harmon gets the pick-6â€¼
This interception by Duron puts the Raiders up 38-20 in the dying minutes of the 4th quarter.pic.twitter.com/dN1SIz6cDr
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) October 23, 2022
Maybe Raider Nation slept on Duron Harmon when he was acquired in the offseason, but he’s surpassed expectations. Harmon, who is nearly 32 years old, has been an asset for Graham, especially in coverage. His two interceptions in 2022 have been highlight reel-worthy plays due to their timing. When the Raiders’ defense has needed a play, Harmon has been there to answer the call. While Harmon isn’t a long-term answer due to his age, the fact that he’s outperformed a former first-round pick tells you all you need to know about Abram.
New regime, new vision.
Dave Ziegler’s decision-making is currently under fire due to the team’s underperformance. However, the roster is currently hampered by the terrible drafting of the previous regime. By making this move, Ziegler is proving he’s not afraid of getting rid of sub-standard players. Next offseason will likely see many current players jettisoned, especially on defense; Ziegler is just getting an early start at this point. In all likelihood, the team’s brass and coaching staff want to see what they have in some of their younger players, such as Isaiah Pola-Mao. Regardless, Abram’s release only serves as a reminder of just how badly the Raiders have whiffed on first-round picks this past decade.
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*Top Photo: Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire/Getty