Johnathan Abram on being a 'hybrid,' the mental parts of safety

NFL Media's Oklahoma Drill series presents exclusive, quick-hitting one-on-one interviews with players and coaches from around the league. No nonsense -- just football experiences directly from the source.

Safety, Mississippi State

Born: Oct. 25, 1996

Experience: Draft prospect

Interview by Brooke Cersosimo | April 5, 2019

It feels good [to be the top safety in this draft class], but I try not to get caught up in that because there's so much work that still needs to be done.

[NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks] have actually had the time to go back and watch the film. That's the one thing. There's nothing you can do off the field after the season is done to actually improve yourself, except for the combine. You can test well, that'll help, but the body of work is there on the film. They saw what everybody else saw.

A hybrid [safety]. I'm someone who can do a little bit of everything. I can play in the slot. I can play in the post. I can play in the box. I can pretty much do whatever you need me to do.

I'm making sure that I'm making fundamental tackles, hitting in the upper-thigh board, keeping my head up, running my feet through contact and making sure that I'm not doing anything that'll get any flags that will cost me and my team.

[Sound tackling] is the one thing I worked on this past season, and I feel like I've done a better job of it. When you do that and strike from low to high, that's when you have [fewer] missed tackles. My missed tackles went down this past season. I'm going to work on it and continue to work on it.

The mental aspect. [As a safety,] you have to know what everyone's doing from the D-line to the linebackers, corners, even yourself. Then you have to make checks and recognize formations, tendencies -- and that's what makes a great safety. So the mental aspect is so much harder than people give credit for.

That's one of the greatest things, just being able to have [teammates going through the draft process that] you can turn to and they know exactly what you're going through. They are in the exact same situation. Some are ranked higher than others (on draft boards), but we all understand.

Oh, no. Nah. No, we don't have [bragging rights set up for whomever gets drafted first]. If anything, we wish we could all be together again.

[Playing quarterback in high school] allowed me to see things on the other side of the ball, like what reads the quarterbacks make, route combinations, route concepts. So, I can see things from the other side, not just from a defensive standpoint.

When you see routes and you know exactly what route is coming off a concept, you can play faster. You'll be able to break rather than just react. You can predict it.

[My journey has taught me that] you can't live up to the statistics that you have to be three-[years-]and-done at one place. That was my plan, but God has different plans for everybody. So it's about accepting my role and how I got here and being appreciative for it because every place, every stop has taught me a lesson.

To enjoy the (draft) process. It's rigorous, it's long and you go through a lot of things. But more importantly, you gotta enjoy yourself. Everybody doesn't get to do this. If it was for everybody, everybody would do it. It's a once-in-a-lifetime thing.

I've learned I can work out a lot more than I thought I could. I work out six days a week.

I have two more (team visits) left. I'm going to Detroit and Philly.

I'm [watching the draft] at my house, just being around family and friends.

They've been enjoying it with me. They take pride in seeing it and seeing how I carry myself and hold myself. I'm a part of them and represent them, as well, so they take pride in that and are happy for me.

[I watch film of] Earl Thomas just for the simple fact that he's always around the ball. He's a hitter. He can cover. He can play in the post. He can pretty much do whatever you need to do.

I've been watching "Game of Thrones." I really hope Daenerys Stormborn, Mother of Dragons gets [the iron throne].

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.
Gamepass_vert_web_r

See all the Action

Replay every game all season.