Johnathan Abram may make a quick impact for the Raiders as a rookie.
The safety out of Mississippi State was Oakland’s third first-round pick in the recent NFL draft, at No. 27 overall, after the team selected defensive end Clelin Ferrell of Clemson and running back Josh Jacobs of Alabama.
Abram is a fit at strong safety, where he established a reputation in college as a solid hitter and tackler, but with enough speed to be effective in pass coverage.
At 5-foot-11 and 205 pounds, he’s been described as a “blunt-force striker” and physical run defender.
And, this week, NFL.com analyst Lance Zierlein listed Abram as one of his three favorite first-round picks in the draft.
Wrote Zielein: “I can’t stress this enough – Abram might have the most pro-ready mindset and game of any of the draft’s first-rounders. He’s a clear-cut alpha dog on the field with an unyielding desire to run, hit and impose his will. He can be a little limited in coverage, but general manager Mike Mayock added a guy with a chance to be a Day 1 starter and instant tone setter as he remakes the football character of his team.”
Abram started his college career at Georgia, but returned to his native Mississippi to play a season in junior college, where he was the No. 1 JUCO recruit in the country at his position. He then thrived for Mississippi State, where he was a third-team All-America pick as a senior when he led his team with 99 tackles, including nine for loss, and had three sacks and two interceptions.
ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay also labeled Abram the best safety in the draft and calls him a “human torpedo.”
But, Abram will have to earn his playing time. Former No. 1 pick Karl Joseph is the incumbent starter at strong safety and free-agent, veteran pickup Lamarcus Joyner is No. 1 at free safety.