Johnathan Abram

Raiders Sign First-Round S Johnathan Abram

Challenging the Jets’ front office construction for Tuesday’s news leader, the Raiders have signed a third draft choice today. The team announced Johnathan Abram agreed to terms on his four-year rookie deal (with the customary fifth-year option).

The third of the Raiders’ three first-round picks, Abram will be expected to integrate quickly into Oakland’s secondary mix. With Lamarcus Joyner thus far working exclusively at slot cornerback, Abram spent OTAs and minicamp operating as a starting safety alongside 2016 first-rounder Karl Joseph.

Abram follows No. 4 overall pick Clelin Ferrell and No. 40 choice Trayvon Mullen in signing today. Abram transferred from Georgia to Mississippi State, playing only his freshman year with the Bulldogs. He registered five sacks and intercepted two passes at his second SEC school. The No. 27 overall selection, Abram was the second safety to come off the board this year — behind the Packers’ Darnell Savage.

Only Josh Jacobs remains unsigned. At this rate, we perhaps should expect news of that agreement to surface tonight.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Sproles, Coleman, Broncos, Raiders

Veteran free agent running back Darren Sproles has been limited to only nine games over the past two seasons. Therefore, as the 35-year-old continues to search for his next gig, he’s seemingly focused on two things: playing in all 16 games and climbing up the all-time lists.

“That’s my whole thing,” Sproles told Dr. David Chao of the Pro Football Doc podcast (via Dave Zangaro of NBC Sports Philly). “I want a full year. I want to get up to top-four or top-five in all-purpose yards, like ever. Right now, I’m number six. If I would have played a full year last year, I’d be number four right now.”

Sproles currently has 19,520 all-purpose yards, trailing Jerry Rice (23,546), Brian Mitchell (23,330), Walter Payton (21,803), Emmitt Smith (21,564), and Tim Brown (19,682) on the all-time list.

Let’s check out some assorted notes from around the NFL…

  • Former first-round wideout Corey Coleman has compiled less than 800 receiving yards since entering the league, and he’s played with four teams in three seasons. However, the Giants receiver remains confident. “You haven’t seen the best of Corey Coleman yet,” the receiver told Art Stapleton of NorthJersey.com. “I feel like I’m getting better and better, and I’m just trying to stay humble and do what they ask of me. I’m happy to be here, and I’m not worried about what happened and didn’t happen in the past. I don’t look back in time. I’m comfortable with this team and in this offense, and I’m excited to show everything people thought I could do and I know I can still do in this league. Nothing’s given to you, and it’s my job to prove it.”
  • Ryan O’Halloran of the Denver Post gave his early projections for the Broncos‘ 53-man roster. The writer believes the team will keep a pair of quarterbacks (Drew Lock and Kevin Hogan) behind starter Joe Flacco, forcing Brett Rypien to the practice squad. Other notable predictions include the decision to keep two fullbacks (Andy Janovich and George Aston) and cut former second-round defensive end DeMarcus Walker.
  • Raiders first-round safety Johnathan Abram is already making a name for himself in OTAs. As Scott Bair of NBC Sports Bay Area writes, the rookie has been working alongside Karl Joseph as a starter, and his confidence has been noticed by his teammates. “I’m always going back and forth a lot. He likes to talk, and I love it,” linebacker Tahir Whitehead said. “He’s a young guy coming in showing how confident he is. I love that. We can build off of that. We need more guys with belief in their skill set and bringing that attitude to the entire team. That’s going to take us a long way.”

NFL Draft Rumors: Taylor, Ford, Sweat

Florida offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor met with the Bengals on Tuesday, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Taylor, who stands 6’5″ and 328 pounds, certainly has the size requirements favored by new Cincinnati offensive line coach Jim Turner, but it’s unclear if the ex-Gator will be available when the Bengals make their first-round selection at No. 11. Along with Jonah Williams (Alabama), Andre Dillard (Washington State), and Cody Ford (Oklahoma), Taylor is considered one of the best tackle prospects available in the 2019 draft. If selected by the Bengals, Taylor could immediately take over at right tackle, displacing the recently re-signed Bobby Hart, and would be a long-term option to replace Cordy Glenn on the blindside.

Here’s more on the 2019 NFL draft:

  • Speaking of Ford, the Oklahoma offensive lineman has been extremely busy during the pre-draft season. Per Aaron Wilson the Houston Chronicle, Ford has met with and/or worked out for the Patriots, Eagles, Buccaneers, Vikings, Texans, Cardinals, and Falcons. That’s in addition to his previously-reported stops with the Bengals and Panthers. Ford was a first-team All-Big 12 selection in 2018 and helped Oklahoma win the Joe Moore Award, given to the country’s best offensive line. A left guard in both 2016 and 2017, Ford shifted to right tackle for the 2018 campaign.
  • The Texans are meeting with Mississippi State edge rusher Montez Sweat on Wednesday, reports Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Sweat is considered of the best defensive ends in the draft (especially after blowing up the combine), so Houston would likely need to trade up from No. 23 overall in order to land him. After starting his collegiate career at Michigan State, Sweat spent two years with the Bulldogs, racking up 22.5 sacks and 30 tackles for loss during that time.
  • Washington cornerback Byron Murphy has met with the Panthers, Chiefs, and Cardinals in addition to his visit with the Steelers, tweets Wilson. In 2018, Murphy earned a spot on the first-team All-Pac-12 list after putting up 37 tackles, four interceptions, and 13 interceptions. Regarded as a first-round pick by most observers, Murphy is the No. 6 overall player on Pro Football Focus’ draft board after allowing only a 47.7% completion percentage against and forcing 17 incompletions.
  • The Rams hosted Mississippi State safety Johnathan Abram on Tuesday, per Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (Twitter link). Abram, who has also met with the Cowboys and Cardinals, is part of a closely-clustered safety class that could start coming off the board at the end of the first round. Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com, notably, ranks Abram as the No. 1 safety prospect of 2019. Arbam posted two interceptions, three sacks, and nine tackles for loss last year.

Draft Notes: Ferguson, Williams, Gary, Jags

Louisiana Tech-produced edge prospect Jaylon Ferguson will have one of the busiest Aprils on tap for any NFL hopeful in memory. He is set to meet with 22 teams this month, according to Jenna Laine of ESPN.com. The Bengals and Buccaneers are two of the teams who have requested summits. Those visits will occur this week, per Laine. Ferguson set the Division I-FBS sack record with 47 in his four-year run with the Bulldogs, accumulating 67.5 tackles for loss in the process. But a simple battery conviction, stemming from a fight at a McDonald’s during his freshman year, resulted in a partial ban from the Combine. Teams are looking to examine Ferguson more thoroughly.

Here is the latest from the draft world:

  • While Nick Bosa is expected to be the first defensive player off the board, Quinnen Williams has been looming as a potential top-three pick as well. The Alabama interior defender met with the 49ers on Monday night, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets, adding a Raiders summit is up next for the high-end D-line prospect. Holding the No. 3 overall pick, the Jets figure to also be in play for Williams. Both Bay Area teams, however, are doing extensive work on this class’ top defenders.
  • Another possible top-10 defensive line pick, Rashan Gary spent time in Jacksonville on Tuesday, per Pelissero (on Twitter). The Jaguars visit represents one of many for the Michigan-developed defensive lineman. He was already mentioned as a 49ers, Raiders and Bengals top-30 visit. Gary finished his Wolverines career with just 9.5 sacks, but the 6-foot-4 defender carries elite measureables — including a 4.58 40-yard dash — that have him projected as one of the top players available.
  • While the Jaguars may have erred in not using their most recent top-10 pick to take either Patrick Mahomes or Deshaun Watson in 2017, and instead rolling with Blake Bortles for two more seasons, they are understandably not connected to this year’s crop of draft-eligible quarterbacks. The team that gave Nick Foles $50MM guaranteed, however, did do “a ton” of work on these passing prospects during the 2018 college football season, Albert Breer of SI.com notes. While Breer mentions the Jags as a team that could be a stealth quarterback suitor at No. 7 overall, that would certainly be an interesting use of offseason resources.
  • After meeting with the Cowboys, safety prospect Johnathan Abram will trek to Arizona for a Cardinals powwow, Calvin Watkins of The Athletic tweets. Abram is this class’ top safety, per NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah. The Mississippi State alum, who began his career at Georgia, notched two interceptions and three sacks last season. He also made nine tackles for loss. The Cardinals’ second pick comes at No. 33.

Draft Notes: LBs, Cowboys, OL, Pats, Ravens

Two teams who will be visiting with Devin White soon are also set to have this draft’s other high-profile Devin on their pre-draft itineraries. The Bengals met with Devin Bush on Monday, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets, adding the Buccaneers are next up on the Michigan-produced linebacker’s schedule. White is expected to go off draft boards a bit sooner, but Bush is viewed as a solid first-round pick as well. Bush finished out the 2018 season with 66 tackles, including 8.5 for a loss, and 4.5 sacks. In 2017, the versatile linebacker posted 95 tackles, 10 for loss, and 5.5 sacks. He is the son of former Falcons, Rams and Browns safety Devin Bush Sr., a 1995 first-round pick who played in back-to-back Super Bowls in the late 1990s. The Bucs hold the No. 5 pick, while the Bengals’ first pick comes at No. 11.

Here’s the latest from the draft world:

  • While Bush may be a solid first-round bet, White has climbed to the point of potentially becoming the first off-ball linebacker to be drafted in the top five since Aaron Curry in 2009. A consensus of White being as good or better than Roquan Smith as a prospect has formed, Albert Breer of SI.com notes, adding that he could be a fit at No. 4 for the Raiders or No. 5 for the Bucs.
  • The Cowboys have made most of their 30 visits known, and some higher-level prospects reside on Dallas’ list — despite the team not holding a first-round pick. Wide receiver Deebo Samuel and safeties Taylor Rapp and Johnathan Abram are set to visit the Cowboys, Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News reports. Four defensive tackles, four safeties, three wideouts and three running backs appear on the Cowboys’ list. The past six Cowboys first-round picks visited the Cowboys pre-draft, Machota notes, though with Dallas not holding a selection until late in the second round (No. 58) could complicate matters. NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah rates Samuel, a South Carolina-honed receiver, as this class’ No. 6 wideout. He rates Abram (Mississippi State) as the class’ top safety.
  • Rapp will be receiving a nice tour of the country this month, with a three-time zone trip on the horizon. The Lions, Rams, Giants and Panthers also booked pre-draft summits with the Washington safety, Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com notes. A three-year Huskies contributor, Rapp intercepted seven passes and made at least 50 tackles in each of his college campaigns. Pauline expects Rapp to be a second-round pick.
  • A fellow Washington Huskies product, tackle Kaleb McGary has visits lined up with the Patriots, Rams and Jaguars, per Pauline. The Falcons are also going to work out McGary, who was a three-plus-season starter at right tackle for the Pac-12 program.
  • The top two centers on Jeremiah’s list, N.C. State’s Garrett Bradbury and Texas A&M’s Erik McCoy, will visit the Ravens, The Athletic’s Jeff Zreibec reports (subscription required). Baltimore allowed Ryan Jensen to walk in free agency last year and turned to Matt Skura to replace him in 2018. Skura graded as Pro Football Focus’ No. 23 center last season for a Ravens team that became far more reliant on the run once Lamar Jackson entered the equation.