Photo by Kelly Donoho/Mississippi State Athletics
It’s a historic crop of Mississippi guys in the NFL Draft. Our NFL insider ‘Iso’ Joe Simeone takes on the challenge of predicting where the best players will land. Part Four: Mississippi State S Johnathan Abram
By Joe Simeone
Where Will They Land: Johnathan Abram
Some have described Johnathan Abram has the hardest hitting safety in college football, and it is not far from the truth. Abram plays with a passion and fire that you just don’t see out of every player, but the way he is able to fly around the field and get to the ball sets him apart. Abram fits more of a box safety mold, who will play leaning towards the run rather than a coverage safety. His all-gas-no-breaks approach, while it leads to big plays and stops, can cost him f he over-pursues or misses a tackle. This is a kid that really stepped up in his senior year and made a name for himself; on a star-studded defense that featured first-round prospects Montez Sweat and Jeff Simmons, Abram was the guy jumping off the screen the last six weeks of the season. I see Abram as more of a Landon Collins or Jamal Adams type player, where he will exceed for a team that enables him to play downhill and infuse a defense with energy and emotion. This draft class is strong at the safety position, but I think Abram still stands out among the field. The question that matters: where do teams rate him? Well, let’s find out where he might go.
Johnathan Abram from ‘Sip State’ joined CMillen Wolfe and myself to talk Bobby Bouche’, Bulldogs, and upcoming draft pic.twitter.com/eOBJo6sAD6
— Brian Baldinger (@BaldyNFL) April 6, 2019
Indianapolis Colts Round 1 Pick No. 26, Round 2 Pick No.34, 59
The injury bug. The Colts are in an interesting position: they really can’t go wrong with whoever they take with their first two selections. They have a solid foundation for a contending team already in place, but could upgrade at just about any position, including strong safety. The Colts went into last season thinking they had a productive duo back there in Matthias Farley and Clayton Geathers; they quickly learned the hard way what injuries can do to a defense, as both players missed significant time, with Farley spending most of the year on IR. Both have been retained by the Colts this off-season, but on small, one-year “prove it” deals. The Colts employ the famed Tampa 2 defense, and need to find their strong safety of the present and future as a pivotal part of that scheme. Abram has shades of Bob Sanders (former Colts hard-hitting safety) to me and could have a huge impact on this Colts team. I think he can step in and be a key piece, as well as a vocal and emotional leader for this very young and talented defense. It is hard to pin down what the Colts view as their top need, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they grabbed Abram with either their first or second round pick.
Cleveland Browns Round 2, Pick No.49
The off-season champs. Cleveland GM John Dorsey has the longtime laughingstock of the league in position to compete for the playoffs next season, after a slew of terrific off-season moves. The Browns swung for the fences and seem to have hit a home-run in trading strong safety Jabril Peppers (former 17th overall pick) for star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. While the move should electrify the Browns offense, it definitely leaves a need at strong safety. Peppers played a hybrid role, often placed down in the box as another linebacker. Sound familiar? Good, it should, where Abram is concerned. The Bulldogs hitter is the exact player that the Browns need. He can fill the role Peppers played, and potentially do it better. And his attitude, drive, and passion is exactly the type of character Dorsey has been trying to bring into the locker room. There have been rumors of the Browns trading up. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was to grab Abram.
Pittsburgh Steelers Round 2 Pick 52
Attitude and personality. Not sure if there are better words to describe this Pittsburgh Steelers team over the years, but lately it feels like this group has made news for all the wrong reasons. Now that some of the more high-profile, high-maintenance stars like Antonio Brown and LeVeon Bell have moved on, it’s clear Pittsburgh is going to be looking for passionate, ‘team-first’ players to help reestablish the Steelers’ blue-collar culture and take them back to the top of the League. Cue: Abram. There was a man in Pittsburgh once with some beautiful, wild hair and even more audacious game that became one of the best strong safeties in NFL history: Troy Polamalu. While Abram might not quite have the head of hair, he has a bit of the makeup and playing style that made Polamalu an immortal. The Steelers could use a tone-setter on the defensive side of the ball. Abram comes with the attitude and hard-hitting, downhill skill set to match the Pittsburgh scheme. To put it plainly, Abram just feels like a Steeler player. If he falls this far I think Pittsburgh gets a second-round steal.
Dallas Cowboys Round 2 Pick No.58
On the brink of success. With an offensive roster some teams would kill for, the Cowboys are looking to take their defense to the next level. Demarcus Lawrence is locked up, the start of any great defense. But the ‘Boys desperately need to bolster their secondary. It is a solid group but Byron Jones (2015 first round pick) cannot be expected to carry the load by himself. After trading their first-round pick for star wide receiver Amari Cooper last year, the 58th overall selection will be the Cowboys first pick in the draft. There may be a chance to grab first-round talent late in the second round and add a valuable piece to a weak secondary. If Abram falls to this spot, the pick seems like a no-brainer to help take Dak Prescott and company to the next level. Don’t be surprised if the Cowboys add another Mississippi State star to their organization.
.@HailStateFB @JohnathanAbram1 joins us today on PTD on @nflnetwork and I can’t wait to meet my favorite player in the 2019 NFL draft. This is a contact sport and no one hits like Abram. #BaldysBreakdowns pic.twitter.com/WEIayGrDaJ
— Brian Baldinger (@BaldyNFL) April 5, 2019
Abram is one of the hardest hitting safeties to come into the league in some time. His downhill playing style is a little old-school in the pass-happy modern game and can get him into trouble at times, but in the right scheme and team, Abram will excel. The Mississippi State product is not as highly ranked as his fellow teammates Sweat and Simmons, but he is going to be an impactful player at the NFL level. I think whatever team is able to grab him in the second round will get their strong safety of the future.
Catch the next installment of ‘Where Will They Land’ where I break down potential landing spots for Ole Miss star tackle Greg Little.
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