Texas A&M linebacker Nate Askew has offered himself up as someone Saints fans may want to keep an eye on as the late rounds of the 2014 draft and undrafted free agency approach.
Askew on Wednesday told the radio station ESPN 980 in Washington D.C. that the Saints were among several teams he had visited ahead of the May 8-10 draft. However, he also said he had spoken with Washington, Denver and New England; worked out for Philadelphia, Atlanta and Dallas; and visited Carolina, Tampa Bay and Jacksonville.
“It’s been real busy,” Askew said to his hosts, Rick “Doc” Walker and Brian Mitchell. “It’s a great process. I’ve just been enjoying it.”
The 6-foot-3, 241-pound Askew drew sixth- to seventh-round projections from NFL.com, and CBSSports.com doesn’t expect he’ll be selected. He’s quick, having been timed at 4.46 seconds in the 40-yard dash at a workout, according to CBS Sports.
He posted 18 reps in the 225-pound bench press and had a broad jump of 10 feet, 6 inches.
Furthermore, Askew’s story is the non-traditional one commonly found in the Saints’ late draft picks or undrafted signings ever since coach Sean Payton arrived in New Orleans in 2006.
After spending his freshman season in 2010 on special teams, Askew spent his sophomore and junior campaigns as a wide receiver. He caught nine passes for 95 yards and a touchdown over those two years, the first of which was under former coach Mike Sherman and the second of which was under Kevin Sumlin.
Askew only had three catches for 10 yards in his first year with Sumlin, who implemented a spread offense with quarterback Johnny Manziel at the helm. Sherman had run a pro-style offense, Askew said.
“It just took me a while to get adjusted,” he said. “By that time, I really didn’t play junior year.”
Heading into 2013, Texas A&M lacked depth at the linebacker position, and the Aggies approached Askew about switching to that spot. He initially loathed the idea and strongly considered transferring, he said.
Askew then spoke with Von Miller and Sean Porter, both NFL linebackers and former Aggies. He said Miller — a 2012 All-Pro for Denver — and Porter, a fourth-round draft pick for Cincinnati last year, told him, “You can make some money at linebacker.”
So Askew agreed to become a linebacker.
He had 33 total tackles (22 solo) and was second on his team with two interceptions in 12 regular-season games as a senior. He added a third interception and five tackles (three solo) in a Chick-fil-A Bowl victory over Duke to help Texas A&M reach a 9-4 record.
He returned one of those picks for a TD, securing the rare distinction of having scored on both offense and defense.
Askew proclaimed to be “the fastest linebacker in the draft” during his conversation with Walker and Mitchell.
Asked if he could “unload on anybody,” he replied, “Oh, definitely. I’m not shying away from (any) contact.”
(H/T Twitter user @SaintBrian9)