Johnathan Abram used social media to thank a former college coach. Then-University of Georgia defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt used Lamarcus Joyner’s game film as an example of how to play safety the right way, film study that stuck with Abram throughout a college career that wrapped at Mississippi State.
As luck would have it, Abram’s no longer watching Joyner from afar. Now, he’s playing with him in the Raiders' secondary.
Abram shared the surreal nature of the experience on Twitter last week.
Crazy how @CoachJPruitt showed me so much film on this man on how he played with rentlesss effort & laid it all on the line every play. That it became the way I play.. Now to line it up with him is a blessing!✝️ pic.twitter.com/6dveAXvLx0— Johnathan Abram 🐆 (@JohnathanAbram1) May 23, 2019
The Raiders hope that pair plays well together for the foreseeable future. They invested heavily in both. Joyner got a four-year, $42 million deal with $16 million guaranteed, and Abram was made the No. 27 overall selection and given the four-year deal with a fifth-year option that comes with first-round status.
Joyner will move around quite a bit from free safety to slot cornerback, though he and Abram could well spend time together playing safety in Oakland's base defense.
That would be an ideal scenario for Abram. So is having Joyner in the meeting room as a mentor, a role the veteran relishes.
“It’s been a great relationship off the field knowing that I’ve been trusted with big responsibility with great guys like that,” Joyner said last week. “Like I told him and [second-round cornerback Trayvon Mullen], they’re going to be greater players than me someday. So, to be able to have that honor and privilege to guide them and them trust me with that, that’s going to transition to a good work and off-the-field relationship.”
Abram has made a solid first impression since joining the Raiders' offseason program a few weeks back.
“He’s an alpha,” Joyner said. “He just has to slow it down; he’s ready to go. He’s been an alpha all of his life and I told him that you just have to think, keep your feet on the ground and let things come to him.”
Joyner sees a bit of himself in Abram’s rookie exuberance, creating a belief the young guy will settle in just fine.
“I remember being that way, which is why I know – with experience – just relax and your time will come,” Joyner said. “People know [about] your great abilities and your potential.”
The Raiders will count on Abram early, even with Erik Harris and Karl Joseph already in the mix, with Joyner switching positions in sub packages.
“My teammates have been very supportive trying to catch me in,” Joyner said. “I like the culture that [head coach Jon] Gruden is creating around here, it’s family oriented. It’s been a brotherhood and nothing but love since I have been here. It makes me comfortable at that position.”