Malcolm Askew: A Scouting Report
Up next is athlete Malcolm Askew, who comes to Auburn by way of McAdory High School in McCalla, Alabama. Although he is listed by Auburn at 185 pounds, he checks in on HUDL at 5′-10″ and 170 pounds, under average for today’s SEC football player. HUDL has him listed as running a sub 4.40 40-yard dash and having a 37 inch vertical jump. Additionally, he has solid bench press (225) and squat numbers (345).
Most recruiting services have him listed as a four-star athlete. Rivals.com has him listed as the 13th best athlete in the class and the 160th-ranked recruit nationally. He also has been ranked as the eighth-best athlete in Alabama, another testament to how coach Gus Malzahn has closed the recruiting gap between Auburn and Alabama.
In terms of Auburn’s 2017 class, Askew is the 2nd-best skill position school player, checking in behind running back Devan Barrett.
Askew had an interesting high school career. His athletic ability had him on the field as a starter his sophomore year and he played five or more positions during four years at McAdory. The early enrollee is one of the best athletes in the country. Where will he end up at Auburn?
At McAdory he began as a safety in a two-high safety system, which means that presnap he would be more than ten yards behind the line of scrimmage, splitting the field with another safety. McAdory’s corners frequently press-covered the outside man, causing their backs to be turned mid-play. In such a system, the safeties must be both quick to cover ground and be physical run stoppers on run plays because the corners are generally unable to provide run support.
The safeties are not only the last defense against first downs but also against touchdowns. A missed tackle was almost certainly a touchdown, and the inability to eat up ground when converting from back pedaling to run stopping can be the difference between giving up large chunks of yardage and a minimal gain. When defending the passing game, the Mc Adory system was open to being exploited with passes across the middle for short gains and vertical routes down the sidelines, requiring the safeties to have good closing speed and ball skills for the system to be effective.
In his highlights Askew was a very good run stopper, although missed tackles wouldn’t be on a highlight film. He showed little urgency on backpedals and occasionally had a slow transition when attacking runs, but he covered ground very well and wasn’t afraid to stop the ball carrier. While his shoulder-first attack seemed effective, he will not be able to do this every down against premier SEC running backs. Going for the legs of a bigger back is fine, but he’ll need to learn to keep his head up and wrap up the legs with his arms.
With the ball in the air, Askew showed good speed. There didn’t seem to be any corner of the field out of his reach, and he has great ball skills. He is likely to come up with a batted ball, and he has good awareness and the speed to keep up with the receiver being covered. However, I have doubts about his top-end speed and his vertical jump.
He occasionally played offense as a sophomore, and in his junior year he was a more integral part of the offense. Featured as a receiver, his transitions in routes were questionable as was his top-end speed. He could not accelerate away from defenders, but with the ball in hand, his shiftiness and short-term speed were evident. He was very good as a slot receiver, especially in the red-zone, and complemented some of the larger receivers utilized by McAdory.
As a senior, Askew transitioned to quarterback. While there is almost zero chance that Askew will take a snap under center for the Auburn Tigers, quarterback was easily his best position, and he was obviously very comfortable there. In stature and game play, he is similar to current Auburn QB, John Franklin, III, but is much more accurate and has a stronger arm.
Initially, I believed Askew’s quarterback highlights would be gimmicks or wildcat-type packages. That simply wasn’t the case. Askew was a fantastic quarterback. Multiple times, he heaved 55-yard bombs on the run, hitting receivers in stride. Other times, he hit timing routes perfectly. What I like the most about Askew as a QB was that he always held his head up, looking downfield for a pass while scrambling. He always seemed to know where his receiver was as opposed to chucking the ball up for grabs.
In his three years of highlights, Askew looked the fastest and most elusive as a quarterback. His senior year was the only one he didn’t look timid. He did have faults, one of which was never setting his feet to throw the ball. While that is a testament to his arm strength, he also had problems with ball security and needs to learn to take sacks and limit negative plays. These would be problems if he played quarterback at Auburn. Additionally, with Auburn’s depth at wide receiver and running back, he has little chance to play offense.
He most likely can find a spot on defense with his physicality and run-stopping ability. He has things to work on, such as transitioning faster from pass coverage to run stopping, and his tackling form has to improve. However, he has the motor and the mentality.