When the New York Giants selected San Diego State safety Nat Berhe in the fifth-round of the 2014 NFL Draft, many were surprised given their need for offensive lineman, interior defensive lineman and, of course, their glaring need at tight end. And while Berhe may not be able to fill in at any of those positions, he does offer the Giants significant versatility at several others.
"At San Diego State, I played the Aztec position," Berhe said. "The Aztec position plays linebacker and blitzes off the edge. I played a little bit of free safety and kind of did it all. I am very comfortable playing either role."
The "Aztec position" is the name now given to the position created by the University of New Mexico for Brian Urlacher during his college days. It essentially allows a player to fill in at a multitude of defensive positions, including outside linebacker, slot corner, free safety and strong safety.
"The Aztec position used to be called the Lobo, and was played by Brian Urlacher at New Mexico. His coaching staff came over to San Diego State and we implemented it there, and called it the Aztec," Berhe added. "It basically is a hybrid linebacker/safety. It can be used in different ways, such as blitzing off the edge or being brought down in the box as an extra linebacker. He can play deep pass or safety or line up in the slot and play guys man-to-man. The position makes a lot of the adjustments on defense as well."
It doesn't stop there for Berhe, who also has a lot of Special Teams experience and will likely find early playing time on that unit. But regardless of where he lines up, Berhe says he plays angry and with a constant chip on his shoulder; he says he wants to be the "biggest, baddest dude" on the field and like to lay hits on opponents that would make Ronnie Lott proud.
"I try to be the biggest and baddest dude out there every time. It is just the way I play. It was the way I was taught to play," Berhe said. "I just play with a lot of emotion and anger and I try to take people’s heads off, it’s what I do. I think that is how the safety position is supposed to be played."
And if you think his size will detract from his ability to get on the field, Berhe wants to you remember that he's the same size as other top safeties in the NFL, such as Early Thomas and Devin McCourtney.
The Giants found themselves another team leader. Another guy with a high football IQ. And another guy who is as tough as nails.
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