Johnathan Abram Scouting Report By Charlie Campbell
Has good speed
Superb run defender
Can serve as the eighth man in the box
Decisive to attack downhill
Reliable open-field tackler
Excellent fit as a strong safety for current NFL
Can play man coverage on receiving tight ends
Strong in zone coverage
Play-maker in the middle of the field
Covers a lot of ground
Reacts quickly in coverage
Extremely physical and violent defender
Interchangeable safety, can play free or strong
Should be able to play quickly
Experienced and successful against good college talent
Not a natural at free safety
Should not play man coverage on most slot receivers
Can bite on play-action
Summary: During the summer of 2018 when speaking with multiple area scouts who cover the Southeast, Abram received some praise for helping himself in 2017. He was a physical defender and around the ball consistently for the Bulldogs. Abram totaled 71 tackles with five passes broken up and two forced fumbles during his junior year. As a senior, Abram built on that and was even better. He recorded 99 tackles with two interceptions, five passes broken up, three sacks and nine tackles for a loss in 2018. Scouts were impressed with Abram in 2018 and, all fall, were saying he played the game the right way.
Abram is a physical force. He is a violent hitter who shows strength and explosion as a tackler. Abram not only can dish out bone-rattling hits, but he is a reliable to wrap up. With good speed and athleticism, Abram flies around the field and can break down to make tackles in space. He is a very good open-field tackler who gets ball-carriers to the ground and does it with ferocity.
In the ground game, Abram is excellent. He is a good tackler who comes downhill aggressively with zero hesitation to meet backs in the hole or backfield. Abram is very dangerous with plays in front of him and attacks. As a pro, he would have enough size and plenty of physicality to be the eighth man in the box. He should be an asset as a run defender and will help to make his team much tougher to run on. Through his strength and tenacity, Abram can take on big backs. With his speed and tackling technique, Abram is adept at taking down speed backs. Abram could be one of the better run defending safeties in the NFL during his career.
Abram is a solid defender for pass coverage entering the NFL. He is good in zone coverage, using his instincts to be around the ball and make plays. Abram also is an enforcer in the middle of the field who will punish receivers for crossing the middle. With his speed and athleticism, Abram can also play some man coverage on tight ends. He should be a nice safety to help defenses match up against receiving mismatches at tight end. Abram also can help on big receivers in man coverage. He has range in the middle of the field and is able to cover a lot of ground.
With his athletic flexibility, Abram can contribute as a free safety. He has the speed and instincts to line up deep to defend that part of the field. However, sources say that free safety is not a natural fit for him. He has range and athletic ability, but is better coming forward. Thus, while he could play some free safety, his NFL team probably would not want him playing free safety on an every-down basis. Abram also has some limitations in man coverage on slot receivers. He is not a good fit and could give up plays if he is forced to play man on fast and shifty slot receivers. Still, Abram is a solid coverage safety who should be reliable to defend the middle of the field.
Multiple team sources say that Abram is their top safety prospect in the 2019 NFL Draft. Thus, he could be a pick in the back half of the first round and should not last long if he slips to the second round. Being a late first-round or high second-round pick is where Abram will most likely be drafted.
Player Comparison: D.J. Swearinger. Team sources have compared Abram to Swearinger, which makes sense. They have similar skill sets, are almost identical in size, and play the game similarly in terms of physical style. Swearinger (5-10, 205) has turned into one of the better safeties in the NFL since being a second-round pick by the Houston Texans in the 2013 NFL Draft. Abram does not make as many plays in coverage as Swearinger, but Abram is faster and a bit more athletic. In the NFL, I could see Abram being a safety of a similar caliber to Swearinger.
NFL Matches: Oakland, Carolina, Tampa Bay, Green Bay, Kansas City, New England
The Raiders should not have a need at safety, but former general manager Reggie McKenzie took a few busts at the position. Obi Melifonwu was cut, and Karl Joseph is more of a rotational backup. Thus, Oakland needs a long-term starter. Abram could be a fit for the Raiders with one of their late first-round picks or their high second-round pick.
Similarly, Abram could be a fit for the Packers with their late first-round pick or their second-round pick. Green Bay traded away HaHa Clinton-Dix and could use a safety to go with Josh Jones.
Carolina needs a free safety to pair with Eric Reid, and Abram could be a fit for the Panthers in the first round. They also could consider trading up from their second-round pick if Abram slides into Day 2.
Staying in the NFC South, Tampa Bay made a mistake passing on Derwin James and could use a safety to go with Justin Evans. Abram would make sense in the second round.
Eric Berry has had an inspiring career overcoming injuries and illness. Kansas City could use an upgrade next to Berry and get ready for the end of Berry's career. Abram could be in play for the Chiefs in the first round.
The Patriots have some aging safeties and could use some youth at the position. Abram would be a great fit in New England.