For the first time in a long time the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have uncertainty surrounding the tight end position. With former first round pick OJ Howard moving on this offseason and Rob Gronkowski weighing retirement, the Bucs had just Cameron Brate under contract heading into the draft. That changed with the first pick of the fourth round.
Cade Otton is a guy who the Buccaneers had interviewed leading up to the draft, so it’s no surprise that they decided to draft him with this pick. The Washington Huskie put up 250 receiving yards and one touchdown in eight games last year. Now he has a chance to potentially be the Buccaneers number two tight end or learn behind a pair of great veterans if Gronk does decide to return. What does Otton bring to the table? I took a look.
Games watched: Michigan, Montana, UCLA, Oregon
Otton is a well rounded player with no glaring weakness. He has some blocking ability and shows he can run routes and catch the ball well. He can play some in line or as a big slot, so there is versatility to his game. In terms of moldable clay, the Buccaneers can really develop him into whatever they want him to be.
Part of this is a reflection of his athletic ability. Despite not testing at the combine due to injury, Otton looks like a good athlete watching him play. At 6’5 and 250 lbs he moves well, both in terms of speed and fluidity. This is a big positive in projecting him as an NFL pass catcher.
In addition to athleticism, Otton also has experience on his side. He saw meaningful playing time in all four years at Washington. This has led to him being more polished than other tight end prospects in the draft.
While Otton has no glaring weaknesses, it’s hard to say that he has many strengths either. He’s a bit of a jack of all trades and master of none type of player. As a blocker, Otton is just so-so. He doesn’t really generate push at the point of attack consistently and that’s not likely to improve when going against NFL athletes. As a pass catcher he has never been particularly productive with his career high in receiving yards at 344 in 2019.
Despite looking like a good athlete and a good route runner, Otton doesn’t get consistent separation. Sure, he flashes good moments vs inferior competition, but when going against other NFL prospects I came away mostly underwhelmed. He isn’t a lost cause in this area, but I don’t anticipate Otton ever being an impact receiver in the NFL.
Otton is as lukewarm of a draft pick as it gets for me. He has some athletic ability and is fairly polished coming out of a power five school. His experience and versatility can only help him and in turn help the Buccaneers. However, nothing about what Otton does on the field really stands out to me.
In a perfect world we see Otton as the third string tight end and he can essentially use this as a red shirt year. Use it to get a little bit stronger, get a little bit faster and be ready to contribute next season. Would it be a disaster if he were the primary backup tight end this year? No, I don’t think it would be that bad. But if Otton is ever going to be an impact player of any kind then he needs to focus on development more than anything this season.
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