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From receiver to defensive back, to Mizzou’s best NFL prospect: Kris Abrams-Draine

After his stellar play this season, it’s almost expected to be seeing Kris Abrams-Draine play on Sundays sometime very soon.

Missouri v Auburn Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images

6’1”, 170 lb. wide receiver out of Spanish Fort, FL. Class of 2020.

That was the recruiting profile for Mizzou’s star defensive back Kris Abrams-Draine coming out of high school. He was listed as a 3-star prospect by 247 Sports and the #77 overall receiver in his class. He held offers from the likes of LSU, Ole Miss, Nebraska, West Virginia, Oregon, and a host of other Power 5 programs.

Abrams-Draine came to Columbia looking to emerge from a cluttered wide receiver room, but after only having two catches in 2020, something clearly was not working.

In the offseason leading up to the 2021 campaign, he and the coaching staff tried him out at cornerback. The rest is history.

Abrams-Draine went on to have 37 total tackles and 3 interceptions in his first year at defensive back, showing an immediate grasp of the position and flashes of great potential thanks to his athleticism. He entered this season as the presumed #1 defensive back on this roster, and he has more than lived up to that hype.

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Through eight games, Abrams-Draine has 19 total tackles, 8 pass breakups, but zero interceptions. The lack of turnovers really isn’t his fault though, teams have just stopped throwing the ball in his direction.

Just look at this past weekend’s game against Vanderbilt. Will Sheppard, the Commodores’ star receiver, came in to the game averaging 71 yards and just over one touchdown per game. Abrams-Draine, who primarily covered the big-bodied receiver, held him to just 28 yards and no touchdowns.

While it seemed difficult for him to be able to improve upon his 2021 campaign, Abrams-Draine did it in large part thanks to a new coach. Mizzou hired Al Pogue to coach defensive backs this season, and Abrams-Draine credits him for making him think more about technique than just using his athleticism to make plays. The two already had a relationship from when Pogue was his primary recruiter at West Virginia, so this was a perfect match.

Abrams-Draine’s elite speed (4.42 40-yard dash) and ball skills in the air have allowed him to soar up draft boards as this season has progressed. has him listed as a late 2nd round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, and if his level of play continues, he could see first-round looks come April.

Despite all of the added hype and noise surrounding him this season, everybody says Abrams-Draine has remained the same character.

“He’s a cool cat,” defensive coordinator Blake Baker said of his star defensive back. Baker went on to say that he’s “everything you want in a corner”, that his next-play mentality is incredible and he can make any play on the field.

His ability to be calm on the field and forget mistakes has always stuck with him, to the point where Abrams-Draine looks visually confused when people ask him why he’s like that.

“I’ve just always been this way, so I don’t know,” Abrams-Draine said of his calm demeanor.

He does attribute some of his success to his start on the other side of the ball. Abrams-Draine says that his knowledge of receiver alignment, feet positioning, and breaks on routes all helps him as a defensive back.

As for his NFL future, Abrams-Draine says he has taken some looks at draft projections this season but is going to save any form of decision until the end of the year. With two years of eligibility left thanks to the 2020 COVID-19 season, Abrams-Draine has plenty of options when it comes to what he wants to do in the future. After all, this current class of DBs is loaded, with the likes of Joey Porter Jr. (PSU), Kelee Ringo (UGA), Malachi Moore (Bama), and Clark Phillips (Utah) headlining the group.

For now, he’ll continue to terrorize opposing receivers and make highlight-reel plays on the field. When the time comes, he may be the highest drafted Mizzou prospect since Charles Harris went in the first round (#22) in 2017.