- Dan Graziano, ESPN Staff Writer
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Sheil Kapadia's All-22 look at what James Casey can bring to the Philadelphia Eagles' offense is, not surprisingly, thorough and worth your time. Sheil examines the various places in the offense in which Casey can line up and has lined up, and breaks down some plays that showcase his versatility. His conclusion:
It’s easy to see why Chip Kelly values Casey. And once again, the key word is versatility. He can line up all over the place, create mismatches pre-snap, catch the ball, block and play special teams.
Signing with the Eagles makes sense for Casey, too. Remember, this is someone who had 111 catches in his final college season at Rice. In Philadelphia, he won’t be used as a traditional fullback much and should get plenty of opportunities as a receiver.
Just how much Casey will be used will depend on what the team’s offensive personnel looks like when the season starts, but Kelly will find a way to make use of his new toy in 2013.
What you heard about Casey when free agency began and several teams were expressing interest in him was a belief that he was under-utilized in Houston and could flourish in an offense less devoted to the run and more willing to move him around in the formation. He can, as Sheil points out, line up anywhere: "out wide, in the slot, in the backfield and as an in-line tight end." The Texans used him mainly as a fullback.
I think the key thing to keep remembering about Kelly is that he probably doesn't yet have a defined sense of how his offense is going to look in Philadelphia and is trying to set himself up with as many options as possible. And that, I would suspect, is what attracted him to Casey. This is a guy who will fit anything Kelly ends up running on offense with the Eagles, and his versatility is the draw. If Kelly looked and saw a player who could be a fullback, tight end, wide receiver, slot receiver or all of the above, sometimes on the same offensive series, it's no surprise he decided to pounce. Heck, right now Kelly doesn't even know who his quarterback is going to be, let alone how he's going to line up the 10 guys around him. A swiss-army-knife guy like Casey is right up the alley of a coach who's got to figure all of this out on the fly. He'll help Kelly solve puzzles.