His coming-out party was delayed by a year but Johnathan Abram has quickly cemented himself as one of the Las Vegas Raiders‘ key defenders. He has made some boneheaded plays but he’s obviously one of the more talented players in the secondary. Not only does he have the skill, he also plays with a ton of passion that can be infectious for a defense.
Raiders defensive backs coach Jim O’Neil was recently asked about the young safety and offered some very high praise.
“He’s better than advertised,” O’Neil said Wednesday. “I love him. He’s exactly what this team needed and exactly what this defense needed. We needed an alpha dog in the back end that’s going to make the middle of the field a scary place and fly around and be a relentless player.”
Abram is definitely relentless, to say the least. He’s constantly all over the field and trying to make plays.
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O’Neil Believes Abram Will Slow Down
While Abram’s ability to be all over the place should be admired, it’s also led to some key mistakes. O’Neil thinks that Abram will be less out of control as he gets more experience.
“John is one of those players who is truly all gas and no brakes,” O’Neil said. “In my experience in this league, it’s a lot easier to slow guys down than it is to speed them up. As he plays more and more, he’s going to understand those situations where he can take a shot or when he’s got to just come under control and secure a good tackle or come under control and keep leverage in coverage.”
Against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 5, Abram covered 1,984.8 in just one game. According to Josh Dubow, that’s the most for any player throughout the entire season.
Eventually, Abram will learn to play smart, not harder. The talent is there for him to be a top safety in the league. If his body can hold up, it looks like the Raiders found a good one.
O’Neil Talks Trayvon Mullen
Speaking of players who have stepped up in the Raiders’ secondary, Trayvon Mullen has been a revelation. Not only is he the team’s best cornerback, but he’s also been playing like one of the best cornerbacks in the entire NFL.
“I think Trayvon has taken a big jump,” O’Neil said. “He put on some good weight and really improved his lower-body strength, and the game slowed down for him a little bit. Instead of going to the line and just playing, he is going to the line with a plan and he’s executing his plan. You can see the confidence.”
The 2019 second-round pick showed flashes last season but it’s undeniable he has taken a leap this year. The Raiders showed a lot of trust in him this offseason by not bringing in a different number one cornerback. If Damon Arnette turns out to be a stud, Las Vegas could have a really strong duo at cornerback.