Back in October, the Raiders traded wide receiver Amari Cooper to the Dallas Cowboys for a first-round pick.
On Thursday, head coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock cashed in that chip by drafting Mississippi State safety Johnathan Abram with the No. 27 overall pick.
NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported that the Raiders were planning to take Mississippi State's Montez Sweat at No. 27, but Washington traded up to No. 26 and took Sweat.
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College: Mississippi State
Selection: First round (No. 27 overall)
Abram does everything well. He’s an aggressive player who can cover tight ends and receivers and thrives playing in the box. He’s more of a strong safety by trade, but he can move all over the field. He has plenty of play speed and can be a heavy hitter when bearing down on ball carriers.
He turned in a 4.44-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine.
“He runs the alley like a speeding bullet, but doesn’t consistently come to balance and his aggressive play style is his best and most worrisome quality,” said Dane Brugler, NFL draft expert for The Athletic. “Although he reacts well and plays with boundless energy, Abram struggles to anticipate and is at his best where he can run-and-hit. Overall, Abram is not the type of safety who will sniff out routes and thrive in deep coverage, but he is a tempo-setter with the fast and physical appetite to hunt.”
He was at the Senior Bowl but didn’t participate due to a shoulder injury, but his game tape was strong and revealed a productive player. He had 170 tackles, including 14 for a loss, three sacks, three forced fumbles, 10 pass breakups and two interceptions in two seasons at Mississippi State.
The Raiders need another prominent safety in the mix, considering how much slot cornerback Lamarcus Joyner is going to play. Abram’s presence could also be seen a shot over Karl Joseph’s bow, considering the two have similar skill sets.
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Abram will have to earn his spot, but he’ll certainly compete for playing time either as a three-down player or a rotational piece as a rookie.
What they’re saying
“Fast. Physical. Aggressive.” -- Abram succinctly describing his style of play.
“The dude is a good player. Every time he brings that energy. He’s a thumper.” -- fellow Raiders first-round pick Josh Jacobs, who played against Abram in college