Huard: What Seahawks are getting in new safety Johnathan Abram
The Seahawks have a new and intriguing name on their 53-man roster in safety Johnathan Abram, a 2019 first-round pick who is now on his third team in less than a month.
Abram, 26, was the 27th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft by the Las Vegas Raiders under then-head coach Jon Gruden and then-general manager Mike Mayock, but he failed to live up to that draft status and when the Raiders got a new front office and coaching staff, they didn’t pick up Abram’s fifth-year option last offseason, making him a free agent after this season.
But shortly after the trade deadline passed last month, Abram was waived by the Raiders and was claimed by the Green Bay Packers, who waived Abram this week before landing in Seattle via waiver claim.
Safety is a position where the Seahawks lack high-end depth as starting strong safety Jamal Adams is out for the year and current starter Ryan Neal left last game with an elbow injury, though he’s slated to play this Sunday against the L.A. Rams.
After Neal and Pro Bowl free safety Quandre Diggs, the Seahawks have Josh Jones, who has had his share of struggles this year, undrafted rookie Joey Blount and former second-round pick Teez Tabor, who has spent much of his career on different teams’ practice squad.
When discussing Abram, Huard pointed to another safety from the 2019 NFL Draft who the Seahawks drafted in the second round.
“I think that there is a comp here in some ways to Marquise Blair,” he said.
Abram was the 27th overall pick while Blair was the next safety taken that draft at 47th overall. Both Abram and Blair were hard-hitting safeties in college and were drafted to do that much at the NFL level.
“They ended up getting Marquise Blair in the second round, and to me (Blair and Abram) had a similar kind of mindset, a similar ability that they came in reckless and willing to do damage,” Huard said.
That kind of violence was something Huard felt the Seahawks lacked as star strong safety Kam Chancellor’s career winded down and was ultimately cut short due to injury. The Seahawks used notable draft capital on safeties Tedric Thompson and Lano Hill, neither of whom panned out in Seattle.
“There was no hitting. There was no violence. There was none of that,” Huard said. “So (Abram) seemed to bring a lot of it into the league. The problem was he couldn’t cover.”
According to ESPN’s Brady Henderson, to say Abram has struggled in coverage is an understatement.
“According to NFL Next Gen Stats data, of the 121 players who had logged at least 1,000 coverage snaps since 2019 at the time Abram was waived by the Raiders, he had allowed the second-highest completion percentage as a nearest defender,” Henderson wrote in a news story of the Seahawks landing Abram.
“There’s a reason that the Raiders moved on (as well as) the Packers,” Huard said.
Huard talked to a former teammate of Abram’s with the Raiders and got some insight into the player the Seahawks are getting.
“‘He needs way better eyes and ball skills versus the passing game. At times he can be a poor open-field tackler. But he’s smart as a whip and he was an awesome teammate and he will come up and hit you,'” Huard said he was told by Abram’s ex-teammate. “And that right now is what they need.”
The Seahawks need that, Huard said, because they don’t face too many elite quarterbacks the rest of the season, and because they’ve struggled mightily in the run game their last two games.
“Some of the backup (quarterbacks) you’re going to face, you need somebody to get up in that box and go hit somebody,” he said. “And let’s hope that Johnathan Abram the third time around in the best culture that he’s been around, (that) some of the light bulb can turn on and (he can) be put in a position for success coming up and stopping some of that run game because he does have some of those tools that he brings to the table.”