I'm not sure Eagles fans have yet grasped the show-biz panache of recent acquisition James Casey, a FB/TE hybrid who can also heave the ball about 70 yards downfield if needed…
He's a modern-day Paul Hornung— a guy who can do it all– catch, run, pass, block and kick—and he's one of the new Eagles!
You can trace all of this back to the 2009 Draft. I went back to April 26, 2009… Here is what ESPN's Paul Kuharsky was saying about Casey:
"The Eagles were able to land Florida tight end Cornelius Ingram in the fifth round (153 overall). I just had a long talk with noted draft guru Rick "Goose" Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News about Ingram. Goose had Ingram ranked 59th on his top 100 list. Ingram slipped into the fifth round because he missed the '08 season with an ACL injury, but he has the potential to be the best pass-catching tight end in the draft. Very soft hands and has great athletic ability. In fact, he played on the Florida basketball team one season."
"Teams have done a nice job taking advantage of some undervalued tight ends here in the fifth round. Unbelievable that the Texans were able to get Rice's James Casey in the fifth. He's a kid who can play fullback, tight end or quarterback in the Wildcat formation. He played in Houston, so the Texans were very familiar with him. The Cowboys did a ton of homework on him, so it was a little surprising to see them pass. Right now, draft experts inside Radio City are trying to figure out what exactly the Cowboys were hoping to accomplish today."
ESPN had previewed their highlight on Casey the day before in 2009 with this little ditty:
"James Casey is a very intriguing player, a versatile tight end who can run, catch and throw and will prompt questions about whether the Texans will bust out some Wildcat."
"He was not asked to block much at Rice — where the Texans saw him up close — but Houston drafted Anthony Hill 30 spots earlier and Hill may be the best blocking tight end in the draft."
I don't even pretend to know what all that means except obviously the Eagles under Chip Kelly in 2013 have decided James Casey is ready to imprint his stamp of unpredictably great contribution to an offense in a supporting role.
Cool stuff. Getting more and more up-close video meet-and-greets with Casey, he seems like a guy who knows his role but refuses to shut his mouth!
I like simple confidence, because it does not recognize failure…
Few know it now but Casey and inside linebacker DeMeco Ryans were once teammates on that 2009 Houston Texans "dream team"…His new agent convinced Ryans to join the Texans' conditioning program despite his unhappiness with his contract…
Now jump forward to 2013 and the formerly disgruntled Ryans is set at the MIKE for the Eagles…and his former teammate Casey is the newest "wonder dog" in the Eagles' offense.
We're lucky to have DeMeco Ryans under contract right now… because the bulk of the inside linebacker class of 2012 sucks…
Start with Manti Te'o… Once thought to be a first-round lock, that doesn’t seem to be case any more for the 6-foot-1, 241-pound middle linebacker.
“He’s not a first-round pick,” one personnel man said. “He never was. It was all hype with him. We never had a first-round grade on him. Now, if he’s there when we pick in the second round, yeah you would have to think about him. But I’m not sure about that, either.”
Te’o could be the poster child for a group of linebackers that, if you exclude some hybrid defensive end/linebackers, rank from average to below average.
According to Mark Eckel of the New Jersey Times, he has an NFL personnel guy on record as saying “It’s a terrible group…it really is.”
Here’s a look at some of the linebackers in that group:
• Alec Ogletree, Georgia, 6-3, 236, 4.7 — “He’s got some issues (a DUI charge in February after being suspended the first four games of the season for failing a drug test) off the field that you have to be OK with before you take him. As a player, he’s not bad at all. He plays faster than he times. In a 4-3, I think he’s a good WILL (weakside LB), or if you play a 3-4, you could put him inside. If you use him right, I think you have a player.”
• Kevin Minter, LSU, 6-0, 246, 4.8 — “Some people put a high grade on him; I didn’t. He’s too short, and he’s too slow. I wouldn’t even think about him until the mid to late rounds, but somebody will take him earlier than that.”
• Khaseem Greene, Rutgers, 6-1, 241, 4.7 — “He’s OK. He plays faster than he times, and he plays real hard; you have to like that. He doesn’t have good instincts, though, and that could be a problem at this level. He’s not great against the run, either.”
• Arthur Brown, Kansas State, 6-0, 241, 4.67 — “(A) real try-hard guy with decent speed, but he doesn’t do much for me. I don’t think we would take him.”
• Kevin Reddick, North Carolina, 6-1, 243, 4.72 — “He put up numbers (85 tackles, 18 for loss, 6½ sacks, two forced fumbles, six pass break ups), but I’m not sure about him making the jump. I don’t think he can play MIKE in a 4-3. He’s probably best as an inside guy in a 3-4.”
Okay, I get it. Don't expect an inside LB in your Draftmas stocking this year, Iggles Fans…
But thank the Spirit of Christmas Past that our long-time poster of excellence, the one and only JERKY SUMLIN, has re-emerged from the mist of spiritual travels. Many of us old-timers here were experiencing "Jerky Withdrawal Symptoms". I for one was experiencing pangs of both longing and guilt. There's no need to further showcase my pain of longing for Jerky's daily observations… Better yet to celebrate the return of Jerky and his fresh outlook upon life and football and existence in general.
Sometimes the young boy hidden in all our souls just needs a break to get away from it all.