Burton Hoping Versatility Leads To Roster Spot

Trey Burton

Trey Burton was sitting in the University of Florida quarterback meeting room during the second week of camp his freshman year when then-head coach Urban Meyer walked in with an unexpected remark.

“You’re too athletic to be sitting on the bench,” he said.


Thus began a four-year journey in which Burton played five offensive positions and scored both a rushing and receiving touchdown in each of his first three seasons. Meyer utilized Burton's versatility by lining him up in the backfield, split out and at tight end.

"That definitely changed the trajectory of my career," Burton said. "No doubt."

The undrafted rookie tight end hopes Chip Kelly makes a similar assessment about the value of his versatility. At 6-2, 224 pounds, he's three inches shorter and 33 pounds lighter than the average NFL starting tight end.

There are only two projected starters 6-2 or shorter, including Washington's Jordan Reed, Burton's former teammate. Reed also played several positions at Florida and entered last season as a backup tight end before earning a starting role.

Although Reed is heavier, Burton sees him as an NFL comparison. Reed recorded more catches and touchdowns in his last two collegiate seasons, but Burton tested out better at the combine, finishing top-five in his position in the 40 (4.62), 3-cone drill and 20-yard shuttle.

Backup Eagles tight end James Casey is also similar to Burton in terms of versatility, and he's helping the rookie navigate his way around the offense.

"James has taken me under his wing," Burton said. "He's been helping me a lot with technique, teaching me some tricks of the offense and showing me the ropes."

Burton's athleticism and explosiveness are undeniable, and while he still faces an uphill climb to a roster spot, his skill set could appeal to Kelly.

In a 2010 game against Kentucky, Burton scored six touchdowns despite touching the ball just 10 times. Before moving to receiver full-time in his second season, he scored 11 rushing touchdowns, good for second all-time among Florida freshmen behind only Emmitt Smith. In all, Burton ended up playing nearly half of the positions on offense at Florida.

"This is the best offense I could've ended up in,” Burton said. "This offense is different from everything else in the NFL and I'm a different player. That's why I came here."

Brent Celek and Zach Ertz have firm grips on the top two tight end spots. Casey is ahead of Burton on the depth chart as well. Last year, the Eagles kept four tight ends coming out of training camp. If that's the case again this year, Burton will have to beat out veteran Emil Igwenagu and undrafted free agent Blake Annen.

Regardless of his role, Burton is hoping to make an impression and prove that the "jack of all trades, master of none" label that has followed him can actually be a positive.

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  • TNA

    Good luck to Burton. Any thoughts on how Villanueva has looked in practice?

    • Glenn

      I know Villaneuva has not had reps with either the first, second, or third teams. That does not bode well for his chances of making the roster.

  • Eagles1018

    Still wish there was more (better?) competition at place kicker. I just don’t trust Henery. He knows murderleg isn’t a real threat to his job.

    • Glenn

      Everyone loves Murderleg because of his excellent nickname, and the tape of him tackling returners like a safety. But the reality is that Murderleg is not an upgrade from Henery.

      • Dominik

        “But the reality is that Murderleg is not an upgrade from Henery”

        And the reality that comes with this statement is… sad. Tommy Lawlor over on Igglesblitz suggested that there could be a veteran in TC if Muderleg doesn’t show enough. The argument is that Vets don’t need OTAs etc., they know what to do, so you can just plug them in before TC.

        We can all hope that’s the case. Having to keep Henery is bad, having to keep him without true competition is awful. Wouldn’t fit Chips philosophy with competition all over the place, but maybe he indeed has a blind spot for the kicker position, who knows.

        • Glenn

          There are two possibilities. One is that they scout all of the NFL teams in preseason, and pick up a really good kicker that loses a training camp battle from another team. The second is that Kelly proves that his inability to find a reliable kicker in Oregon has followed him to Philly. But, that would not be a good excuse when you have guys like Tom Gamble in the front office. It is really not Kelly’s job to find a good kicker.

          • Dominik

            “But, that would not be a good excuse when you have guys like Tom Gamble
            in the front office. It is really not Kelly’s job to find a good kicker.”

            Exactly. Even if Kelly doesn’t value the position, why in the world would he have something against an upgrade? He can’t be happy about Henrys performance last season, that would be absurd.

  • Chris

    I don’t know how Igwenagu has stuck..if chip just likes that he is versatile, Burton or Annen have a good chance of taking that spot. I like Casey but he just can’t get on the field. What kind of financial relief do we see if Casey is cut? He’s a good mentor but i’d take a cheaper guy with more upside at this point, if he continues struggling to see the field. By all accounts, Ertz should break out this year so I’m having trouble seeing how Casey is a good fit.

    • usmcnole

      Casey is a very solid player. Unfortunately for him, celek is more solid and a team leader and ertz is a star in the making. Casey would be a starter on a lot of nfl teams. Bet he regrets comming here

      • Chris

        That’s what i’m thinking too. While I think he’s a good player, I don’t see him as a good fit. Drafting Ertz messed that up. He would be great if Ertz or Celek had to miss some time

      • travis papa

        He has $4 mil reasons not to regret it and about to get $4mil more if you seen his story about how poor he was you would know he has 0 regrets and I’m not saying he is in it just for money either.

    • John E. Zang

      Maybe he’s part of an element to his plans that we haven’t yet seen? Just a guess. Remember, Chips offense is more eclectic and open to new ideas than any in the league.

  • NickS1

    Keep training your replacement Casey..

  • JofreyRice

    Can’t say I really watched him play much, but I wonder if they’d consider just moving him to receiver? Casey is not the guy who’s career I’d be trying to emulate, if I were hoping to make an impact in the NFL.

    If we’re getting bigger, he’s not in monstrous territory for a wideout. Might be around Cooper’s size. I wonder if he’s got any ability to track the ball downfield, or any experience with releasing from the LOS?

    • Maggie

      What about trying him at DB? Wouldn’t be the first time.

  • Jerry Pomroy

    Since we all love the All-22 breakdowns, here’s a pretty in-depth look at Chip’s offensive concepts & utilization of deception and creating mismatches.

    http://m.bleacherreport.com/articles/2091113-chip-kellys-offense-presents-biggest-challenge-to-nfl-defensive-coordinators

    I know it’s BR, but it’s a pretty good breakdown of a lot of the different concepts, bunch formations & position utilization. Sheil must have approved as he RT on Twitter.

    • Eagles1018

      Pomroy you cheater!! Oh wait, Sheil retweeted? Never mind….

  • Glenn

    Sounds like it will be between Casey and Burton for a roster spot. If Burton proves he is as good as Casey, the job is his, and will save the team cap space.

    • Tom W

      Or stash him on the psquad for a yr or pull a Krueger and ir him.

      • cliff henny

        yup. if Casey was going to be 86′d, would of happened already.

        • OldDocRoss

          Remind me, if we were going to cut Casey there were good reasons cap-wise to have done it by now, right? Or did I make that up?

          • cliff henny

            he’s 4m cap hit, 2m guaranteed, but the 2m is offset, so they only have to cover up to 2m. if he signed for say 1.5m, then Eags only be on hook for 500k. if I were Howie/Kelly and Casey wasn’t in plans sent him packing when teams had money. now, he’d get Vet min deal, and that really wouldn’t save Eagles much. but who knows, fact is shipping Jax off made Howie flush with cash, so they could really do anything.

          • OldDocRoss

            Ah, thanks. Much appreciated.

            I thought there was something in there that this year’s money was only guaranteed if he was on the roster on Date X (in my head this was some time in May) but clearly I did indeed make that up!

          • cliff henny

            yup welcome, the 2m is now. Howie has a bunch of these contracts, layered guarantees, it’s tough to follow. he get’s full 4m if he makes roster. Jenkins has something similar. if they’ve signed it in last 2 yrs as a non-eagle FA, it’s really team friendly.

  • EagleDuck

    I don’t understand… With those measurables, isn’t he just a really slow WR?

    • Glenn

      Yes, but a very big WR. Kind of in between Riley Cooper and a TE. Either he bulks his frame up to be a factor as a TE. Or he will simply be a utility versatile special teams player, with little chance of being a full time roster player. You can only have so many Brad Smith types on a team.

    • Will

      4.6 doesn’t always mean slow at the WR postion… he might have better deep/long speed like a T.O or Rice.

    • anon

      Yes, but if he was a better catcher / route runner he’d be good depth. Think he’s got measurables CK wants.

    • cliff henny

      sounds like he needs a year on practice squad, let Hals pound about 20 lbs onto him and then take over for Casey next year.

      • anon

        give him a jugs machine and an intern.

        • cliff henny

          yup. have no problem with “jack of all, master of none” label, if he’s 500k 3rd stringer. let’s not be Cowboy fans and think every UDFA that walks thru the doors is next Romo or Cruz or bust.

      • EagleDuck

        Honestly, I’d rather see him lose 10 lbs and get faster. 6’2 is a meaningful WR height… and a completely worthless TE height.

        • cliff henny

          yeah, no doubt he’s a tweener. even if he loses 10 and get’s to 4.5 40, what’s his ceiling, 5th WR? Matthews is already building his own personal hall of fame, Mac, Huff and Cooper hopefully stick around for awhile. see more of 3rd team TE/HB.

          • Johnny Domino

            “Matthews is already building his own personal hall of fame.”

            Yes, it is a wing off of the children’s hospital/animal shelter he was already building when drafted.

          • Tikkit

            That’s in the middle of that Habitat for Humanity complex that he assembled from his will alone.

  • NCBiRDMann22

    Jimmy Kempski

    @JimmyKempski

    In limited media access to OTAs so far,
    Jordan Matthews has looked like the best WR on the team, in my opinion,
    and it hasn’t been close.

    • borntosuffer

      That’s what I want to hear!

    • anon

      I hope that’s not the case in TC / regular season.

      • OldDocRoss

        He did follow it up by saying “important to give context. Cooper/Maclin probably taking it a little easier in June.”.

        So probably more a case of good news on the Matthews front than bad news about others.

        • cliff henny

          the prophet already stopped running out catches, think Vets got to him with a ‘hey Rook, it’s a long summer, how about we take it down a notch’

          • JofreyRice

            I think maybe Kelly or one of the assistant coaches said “Look, that’s real cute, we know you’re serious, but we have plays we want to run. Get your behind back to the huddle”.

          • poetx99

            this.

    • cliff henny

      don’t mind putting rookies on a pedestal, but if this guy even gets a parking ticket, it’ll be a surprise

      • NCBiRDMann22

        Look I understand Rookie WR don’t usually make a big splash in year 1. But ease up on the negadelphia response commenting…a parking ticket…?? Little harsh if you ask me.

        • cliff henny

          figure the earth will reverse spin on it’s axis if he gets a Jay-walking ticket

          • NCBiRDMann22

            That’s some weird rational Clifford. must be enjoying some fine assortment of greens for lunch this afternoon. JMatt will be our best WR by years end…stamp that!

          • cliff henny

            can I double stamp? it does have no backies

          • southy

            I hear Jordan Matthews went back in time so he could be the first one to forgive Riley Cooper.

          • NCBiRDMann22

            Screw forgive him…he is gonna surplant him and take all his catches

      • Tikkit

        Not only won’t he get a speeding ticket but he’s going to pay off all overdue PPA offenses. Just for giggles.

    • dnabrice

      That fact that it’s not Maclin is kind of worrying to me.

      • NickS1

        It’s June, not August. Plus, while Maclin might be fully recovered, there’s still some acclimation to playing, kinks to work out, etc.

    • Glenn

      This is excellent news! Sounds like the birds knew what they were doing in the second round!

  • Maggie

    Six touchdowns in 10 touches? Second in rushing TDs as a freshman to Emmitt Smith? Some fine references.

  • dnabrice

    Paunil…You gotta push back on SK and TM and get a non-intern assignment!

  • Brent E. Sulecki

    I like to have those 4. Celek.Ertz.Casey.Burton. Bye Bye Emil. if this kid can learn the ropes the skys the limit for him. Casey may be showing this kid how to take his spot next year. still good team by him