Thursday, April 26, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Converted WR Nick Askew hopes to catch on with Bucs at LB

TAMPA — As if trying to make an NFL team as an undrafted rookie weren't enough of a challenge, linebacker Nate Askew is doing that now while making the transition to playing defense as well.

"I'm still learning the position a little bit," Askew said Friday after the first practice of Bucs rookie minicamp.

Askew, 6-foot-4 and 240 pounds, emerged as a playmaking linebacker at Texas A&M last year, but only after spending his first three seasons as a receiver, giving him the kind of untapped potential that's well-suited for the final spots on an NFL roster.

"For Nate, you notice him. Big, strong, fast, but he's green," said coach Lovie Smith, who saw Askew in person at Texas A&M's pro day, then brought him to Tampa for a predraft visit. "He came into A&M as a receiver and now, having him make that move, he has potential. But you know, potential is scary sometimes. He has a long way to go, but it will be fun watching him."

Askew, 22, has a linebacker's size, having added 15 pounds in the past year since his position switch, and he still has the speed that impressed his fellow receivers at Texas A&M.

"He's a great athlete. He was the fastest guy on the team at one point," said receiver Mike Evans, the Bucs' first-round pick and another of four A&M players at rookie minicamp. "Then he bulked up a little bit, got a little heavier, and then I probably was the fastest. But he can jump high, he can run, can cover guys in the slot."

Askew was a promising receiver in high school in San Antonio, catching 24 touchdowns in his final three seasons. He chose A&M over offers from Florida State, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech, but had limited success, catching just nine passes in his first three years.

When A&M needed help at linebacker, coach Kevin Sumlin turned to Askew, who made the switch and tied for the team lead with three interceptions and finished with 38 tackles.

"I progressed during the year, week by week, got better," said Askew, who returned an interception for a touchdown against Sam Houston State, giving him a defensive score to go with one touchdown reception. "I'm trying to pick it up where I left off last season. I'm learning new things, I have a great linebacker coach (former Bucs LB Hardy Nickerson) to help me out, and it's going well."

Linebacker is one position where an undrafted rookie could make the 53-man roster. Tampa Bay has four solid linebackers in starters Lavonte David and Mason Foster, as well as strongside linebackers Jonathan Casillas and Dane Fletcher, but the rest of the options at the position have little to no NFL playing experience. Such a player would be counted on to contribute on special teams, where Askew's speed and size would be an asset in kick coverage, even as he continues to hone his instincts as a linebacker.

His biggest leap in the past year has been a mental one, learning to think like a linebacker, to read and react to an offensive play from a different view, putting himself in the right position to make plays.

"I was kind of delayed with that when I first moved to linebacker, because I was so offensive-minded," said Askew, who is getting a look at weakside linebacker, as a potential backup to David. "Now I'm able to see different things from a defensive perspective and able to get to the ball better now."

 
Comments
Bucs fill a need at running back on the first day of the draft…but it’s Charles Sims, who agrees to a 1-year deal

Bucs fill a need at running back on the first day of the draft…but it’s Charles Sims, who agrees to a 1-year deal

The Bucs landed a running back on the first day of the NFL draft.It wasn't Saquon Barkley or Sony Michel or Derrius Guice. Not just yet, anyway.Tampa Bay reached an agreement on a one-year contract with Charles Sims.The 27-year-old Sims was a third-r...
Updated: 1 hour ago
After Twitter backlash, Jeff Garcia won’t announce any Bucs draft picks

After Twitter backlash, Jeff Garcia won’t announce any Bucs draft picks

The Bucs still don't have a third-round draft pick this weekend, but if they do trade for one, former Tampa Bay Bucs quarterback Jeff Garcia won't be the one to announce it.It's been a rough few days for Garcia, who played for the Bucs in 2007-08, ma...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: John Clayton breaks down the NFL draft

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: John Clayton breaks down the NFL draft

It's NFL draft day. John Clayton joins Rick Stroud to talk about how many quarterbacks will go early and who the Bucs will take with the seventh overall pick, considering their obvious needs on defense.Plus, the Lightning will face the Boston Br...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Bucs draft scenarios: Would this guy be their lucky pick at No. 7?

Bucs draft scenarios: Would this guy be their lucky pick at No. 7?

TAMPA – This is the Rubiks Cube of NFL drafts. It can be twisted and turned it in any direction. Not many know how everything will line up.For the Bucs, the puzzle is simple.  Since they have the No. 7 overall pick, they need four quarterb...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Mock draft consensus: Who the experts have Bucs taking at No. 7

Mock draft consensus: Who the experts have Bucs taking at No. 7

We've linked to a lot of mock drafts over the last four months.We went back and assembled mocks from 40 different NFL writers we've linked to — this isn't the most recent for some of these who are in Mock 9.0 mode, but it's meant as an unscient...
Updated: 6 hours ago
NFL draft: How the Bucs can grab hold of the NFC South

NFL draft: How the Bucs can grab hold of the NFC South

TAMPA — From the department of the weird, also known as Bucs marketing genius — also known as if it bombs, we can blame Ed Glazer — the Bucs will use a … parrot to announce their fourth-round pick in the NFL Draft, which kicks...
Published: 04/25/18
Q&A with Bucs tackle Donovan Smith: On bowling, charity work, team expectations

Q&A with Bucs tackle Donovan Smith: On bowling, charity work, team expectations

Bucs tackle Donovan Smith has a big season ahead, going into a contract year as part of a reshuffled offensive line. Still only 24, he has started all 48 games in his three NFL seasons, and has made it a priority in the offseason to be more active in...
Published: 04/25/18
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Who will the Bucs take with the No. 7 pick?

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Who will the Bucs take with the No. 7 pick?

Rick Stroud answers your NFL draft questions in this mailbag segment, including who the Bucs might take with the seventh overall pick, which running backs they might be looking at, whether Taven Bryan could slip to them in the second r...
Published: 04/25/18
Five options if the Bucs want to trade down from No. 7

Five options if the Bucs want to trade down from No. 7

For months, NFL fans have wondered what the Bucs might do with the No. 7 pick in Thursday's draft, producing a wide range of answers, each with passionate support from some of their fans.But as draft nears, and as the interest level in a talented gro...
Published: 04/24/18
Could Washington DT Vita Vea be the Bucs’ real target at No. 7 in the draft?

Could Washington DT Vita Vea be the Bucs’ real target at No. 7 in the draft?

Vita VeaPosition: Defensive tackleSchool: WashingtonHeight/weight: 6-4, 347Draft projection: Round 1Why Vita Vea makes sense for the Bucs: Vea's combination of size and quick feet is rare. He ran a 5.1 40-yard dash and bench pressed 225 pounds 40 tim...
Published: 04/24/18