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Johnathan Abram becoming defensive stalwart Raiders hoped he would be

Jon Gruden compares the 2019 first-round pick to legendary safety Rodney Harrison

Las Vegas Raiders v Cleveland Browns
Here comes Johnathan Abram
Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Twitter was buzzing about safety Johnathan Abram before the Las Vegas Raiders played in horrible weather conditions at the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.

Abram was getting into his game mode, lousy weather be damned.

It was typical Abram exuberance and it was the game-day attitude Raiders’ coach Jon Gruden loves seeing from his safety. Gruden sees something special from Abram on game days that he thinks impacts the entire team.

“When he’s on the field on game day, something happens to him and our team,” Gruden said on Monday. “He just has a presence about him, a playing style, leadership, playmaking that we need. We feed off of that. It was obvious again (in Cleveland).”

Part of the Raiders’ defensive scheme changes in Week 8 were to blitz Abram more and Gruden expects that to continue. Abram was the No. 27 overall draft pick in 2019 and he missed all but one game with a shoulder injury as a rookie. He has come back in 2020 as a possessed player.

Abram is a hard hitter (and big talker) who flies around the field and has the look of a player who can be a leader of the defense from the back end. Gruden compares him to former Chargers and Patriots star safety Rodney Harrison.

Abram is far from a finished product, but the Raiders love what they see from him on and off the field.

“He has a playing style that I like,” Gruden said. “I think I compared him to the ex-Charger, Patriot great Rodney Harrison. He just has that physical game-day presence that we feel like we need back in this organization.

“He still has a long way to go to become a great safety, but I think you see the splash plays that he’s capable of making. He brings us some leadership and some energy that we really need in the backend.”