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NFL Draft: Player Profile - James Casey, TE, Rice
John Tuvey
March 27, 2009
Presented ByMiller Lite Print this page
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James Casey, TE, RiceMeasurables:
Combine height: 6-3
Combine weight: 246 pounds
Combine 40 time: 4.78 seconds

Stats:
Casey enters the draft after a productive sophomore season in which he recorded 111 receptions for 1,329 yards and 13 touchdowns; he added 57 rushing attempts for 248 yards (4.4 yards per carry) and six touchdowns, many of them coming in a specially designed “Thor” package to capitalize on his versatility. For his two-year stay at Rice (following four years in the White Sox minor league system), Casey caught 157 balls for 1,914 yards and 17 touchdowns, with 102 rushes for 392 yards and 11 more scores.

Skill Set:
Without question Casey’s biggest selling points are his athleticism and versatility. After four seasons in the White Sox system he came to Rice as a linebacker, then at various times during his two years with the Owls played defensive end, quarterback, wide receiver, H-back, and tight end as well as returned punts, held for kicks and served as backup long snapper. He has good hands and natural running instincts; NFL Draft Scout notes that more than half of his 91 touches as a freshman went for first downs or touchdowns. He also has good strength (28 reps at 225 at the Combine, tied for best among tight ends) and the football sense to successfully tackle multiple positions.

Perhaps because he was spread so thin, scouts are concerned Casey’s technique at whatever position he winds up playing (H-back or tight end) will need refinement. He’s also a bit undersized to play on the line, though his bench press suggests he has the strength to hold his own in the trenches. A player with Casey’s versatility can save an NFL team multiple roster spots, so at minimum he’ll be drafted for his athleticism; whether that can translate into a helpful fantasy player remains to be seen.

Possible Destinations:
Casey is a fringe first-day selection, but just about any team from Philadelphia (53) on down could find a place for him to play, be it at tight end or H-back or in “Wildcat” packages or somewhere on special teams. The Vikings (54) could use an upgrade in special teams but might not want to use a second-round selection to do so; the Falcons (55), Dolphins (56), and Ravens (57) all would seem to have a more immediate use for him in their offense. And if any player smacked of Bill Belichick it would be Casey; perhaps the Patriots will use the 58th overall selection to tab Casey as Mike Vrabel’s replacement—at linebacker, in goal line situations, or anywhere else.

Fantasy Impact:
Despite being older than the typical rookie thanks to those four years playing baseball, Casey is still a bit raw as a football player—and that could prevent him from making an immediate impact in the NFL. However, depending on how his new team decides to use him he could be a sneaky stash on a fantasy roster. How’d you like to slot a team’s short-yardage quarterback as your fantasy tight end and pick up a few rushing scores? Given Casey’s versatility it’s a possible NFL scenario and one that suggests fantasy owners at minimum keep tabs on where he lands on draft day.

Gauging Casey’s long-term value is a bit trickier. It’s unlikely he’ll develop into an Antonio Gates, an athlete who becomes a dominant fantasy player. And as his career progresses he may be less likely to be used as a running quarterback in “Wildcat” packages. That said, there is some solid upside to his game for the next few years and depending on where he lands in the NFL he could be worth stashing on a deeper dynasty league roster.

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