Johnathan Abram’s pre-draft tour will include a trip to New England.
The Patriots are one of several teams scheduled to host the Mississippi State safety for a visit this month, according to a report Monday from NFL Media’s Tom Pelissero.
The Patriots return their top three safeties from 2018 in Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung and Duron Harmon, plus third-year pro Obi Melifonwu, but they could use an influx of youth at the position with McCourty and Chung both turning 32 this summer. They could do a lot worse than Abram, whom some draft experts consider the top safety available in this year’s class.
Measuring in at 5-foot-11, 205 pounds, Abram doesn’t possess great coverage skills, but he hits like a truck and is an excellent run defender. Jon Ledyard of The Draft Network wrote that Abram “plays a certifiable crazy brand of football,” and his NFL.com draft profile calls him a “blunt force-striker with the measurables and play demeanor teams look for from a down safety with nickel linebacker qualities.”
In that same profile, NFL Media’s Lance Zierlein added that Abram “grades out as one of the better options for teams looking to deploy an effective ‘big nickel’ defender near the box,” which just so happens to be Chung’s primary role for the Patriots.
On top of the age factor, Chung also has dealt with multiple injuries in recent years, including a broken forearm that knocked him out of Super Bowl LIII and could limit his ability this offseason. Drafting a player like Abram — whom NFL Media draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah called one of his favorite 2019 draft prospects — with the hopes of him eventually replacing Chung could be a smart move for New England.
Abram won’t stay on the board for long, though. He’s likely to hear his name called within the first two rounds after tallying 99 tackles, three sacks, nine tackles for loss, two interceptions and five pass breakups as a senior last season.
Other safety prospects who could interest the Patriots on Day 1 or 2 include Washington’s Taylor Rapp, Florida’s Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Delaware’s Nasir Adderley and Virginia’s Juan Thornhill.
New England currently owns 12 picks in this year’s draft, including six in the first three rounds.