James Casey (Getty Images)
Some of the people who have been critical of the Texans draft have noted the lack of running backs selected, and the multitude of tight ends that the team did take, despite having Pro Bowler Owen Daniels already on the roster.
James Casey was somewhat of a head-scratching pick for many, even though he was taken in the fifth round. It’s not that Casey isn’t a good football player, but he was taken just one round after the Texans took another tight end, Anthony Hill. Texans general manager Rick Smith explained the selection—
“People talk a lot about the fact that a lot of teams are moving to a 3-4 defense instead of a 4-3 defense. A lot of players in this draft were good players for that transition. On the opposite side of the spectrum, the offenses have to go - 3-4 defenses have big outside linebackers and big defensive ends, and if you want to run the football effectively, you have to have guys who can block on the edges. So, we really felt good about Mr. (Anthony) Hill’s contribution and his ability to go help us in that respect. So that was the thought process in adding him. And then, like we talked about before, when you have a guy like James Casey sitting there in the fifth round with everything he can do for your football team versatility-wise, you just can’t pass him up.”
Versatility is a key word, as Casey played a multitude of positions in college, including tight end, defensive end, wide receiver, running back, and even quarterback.
“(James) Casey; everybody is talking about his versatility in the sense that he can play fullback, tight end, you can split him out, he can throw the football. He’s just an unbelievably gifted athlete,” Smith told reporters.
Battle Red Nation needed a scouting report on the young tight end and we asked OwlDigest.com publisher David Mooney, who covered Casey during his time at Rice. Here’s what he had to say—
James can do just about anything on the football field - and did at Rice. He lined up at DE, TE, WR, RB, QB, and also returned punts.
He's the classic first guy in, last to leave type. Though he was the best athlete on the team, he worked out and watched film at the football offices after hours, and took extra reps at practice. He'll outwork everyone.
Extremely tough - played with loose cartilage in his knee as a freshman and also scar tissue from a sports hernia operation.
Can run the Wildcat - he throws the ball a mile but is also quite accurate.
Very soft hands, and good ball skills as a Receiver. Not blazing fast (4.68 at Pro Day) but would be hell on wheels catching the ball from the FB position and over the middle.
Casey got knocked for questionable blocking ability - heck he wasn't ever asked to block! Look at him, do you think he can block?!? He did 28 reps with 225, without saying he's strong enough and can sink his hips. He can block.
I hope the Texans get creative with him - versatility is what he brings.
He's another high character guy. My son met him at practice last summer and James has always remembered and spoken to him after games. Married his high school sweetheart, doesn't drink, doesn't smoke. In two years at Rice, he has completed enough hours to be just 29 shy of achieving his degree - with a TRIPLE major.
Casey’s versatility was simply too much for the Texans to pass up, and according to Rick Smith, the team passed on a trade option where they would move back.
“We were sitting there in the fifth round and we had a deal actually to move back,” Smith explained. “Another team wanted to come up and take that slot. About 10 picks before, we started talking to the team about potentially moving, and we made a decision that if he was there, we couldn’t pass him up. So, sure enough, he was still there when our time came and so we made the call to the team and said we are going to pick our guy right here, and we took him.”