It didn’t take long for rookie safety and first round pick Johnathan Abram to work his way up the depth chart.
When offseason activities began it was Erik Harris who was working alongside Karl Joseph as the starting safety, but on the third day of OTA’s Abram was brought up to the first team replacing Harris.
“Like I said, I just go out there every single day, do my job,” said Abram. “I made a couple plays, coach moved me up. So I just have to continue to go out here and continue to make plays with the ones.”
For many rookies entering the league there is a learning curve that must be met, an adjustment to the speed of the game that is required. It can sometimes be a lot to ask of a young player and it requires a commitment to studying and learning the scheme.
Abram seems to be off to a good start.
“I’m pretty comfortable. Like I said, I have a lot to learn,” Abram added. “I’m more so worried about what to expect from offenses. I do a very great job of going home, watching film, studying, I take a lot of mental reps. I put myself out there in meetings, making calls and if I’m wrong, I’m wrong and coach will correct me as we go through it. But I’m pretty comfortable.”
This comes as no surprise to Raiders coaches. Jon Gruden and his staff were chosen to coach the North squad at the Senior Bowl, Abram was a member of the South team, and although he didn’t play due to injury, Gruden saw first hand the type of football junkie Abram is.
“I couldn’t get rid of the kid,” Gruden said. “He loves football, he’s a coach on the field, he’s a magnetic personality. And he does have length and size to potentially match up with some of the great jokers as I call them that detach tight ends and cause problems. And he’s going to have his hands full.”
Defensive coordinator, Paul Guenther has also taken notice of Abram’s comfort level in the defense early on.
“He’s smart. He’s real smart,” Guenther said of Abram. “From a rookie player with all the stuff the safeties have to know, he’s on top of it each and every day. As I stand in the back of the defense and I hear him communicate, he doesn’t sound like a rookie player, he sounds like a veteran player out there, so that’s encouraging.”
Given the number 24, Abram certainly has some big expectations to live up to. That number was previously worn by Raider legends like Willie Brown, Charles Woodson and Marshawn Lynch. If Abram can be the kind of stalwart player and team leader those guys were, the Raiders have a real gem on their hands.