The Raiders have plenty of picks in this spring’s draft, including two first-rounders, and the franchise also has room under the salary cap to bring in veteran free agents. So, the team that went 7-9 and just missed a playoff spot could be much better in 2020.
But Oakland also gets another first-rounder this year: Johnathan Abram.
Abram, a first-round choice in 2019, will return from a torn rotator cuff suffered in the regular-season opener against the Broncos in September.
The hard-hitting safety looked terrific in training camp and the preseason, then started off with a bang in that opener, ranging all over the field with five tackles and a pass defensed in the first half before hurting his shoulder on a big hit.
The 6-foot, 205-pounder from Mississippi State went from being a strong candidate for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year to the sidelines in an instant. He was placed on injured reserve.
Now, after months of rehab, Abram should be ready to make an impact in 2020. It’s possible, too, that the team could allow Karl Joseph to leave in free agency, meaning Abram would be the uncontested starter at strong safety.
Abram obviously was disappointed with how his rookie season played out. He posted on social media after his shoulder surgery that he had set “big goals” for 2019 but things "didn’t go as planned." Yet Abram remains confident he can be an impact player for the Raiders in Year 2.
"I’m coming back harder than ever," he said.