The Las Vegas Raiders had some special rookie talent during their 2019 campaign. With Josh Jacobs taking the reins on offense and Maxx Crosby becoming a defensive powerhouse, the future appears bright.
What is even more encouraging is that the Raiders could have had one more rookie break out onto the scene. Johnathan Abram was one of the Raiders’ most touted first-year players coming into 2019. Unfortunately, he injured his shoulder after just one game with the Silver and Black.
Abram was the talk of Raiders training camp this summer, even having four-year veteran safety Karl Joseph request to room with him to show him the reigns. Although his time playing was cut short, he still was able to create bonds with his team.
In particular, Abram and head coach Jon Gruden got along well, via Eddie Paskal of Raiders.com:
“He’s a lot more focused, relaxed. Still intense, but more serious. When it’s me and him one-one-one, we have true heart to hearts. We talk about a lot of things. When we break down film and things like that, he’s always teaching me, trying to help me grow to be a better player and better person.”
Abram was one of numerous players to suffer an injury with the Raiders last year. On top of injuries, the Raiders traded away cornerback Gareon Conley and then Vontaze Burfict found himself suspended for the final 12 games of the season after a hard hit.
With so many players gone, the Raiders passing defense was one of the worst in the league. Lamarcus Joyner did what he could to help, including playing multiple positions, but the Raiders still finished eighth-worst against the pass.
In Abram’s one game he finished with one solo tackle, four combined tackles and one pass defensed. While his stats are not terribly exciting, the potential was there and many believed he would have an excellent rookie season.
Hopefully, Abram’s sophomore year will be a long and healthy one. With some practice this offseason, he should be ready for a triumphant return in 2020. If his collegiate career is any indicator, Abram should improve as he did every year at Mississippi State before being drafted in the first round.