Opening the second round with pick No. 33, Tampa Bay addressed a hole on its defensive line with the selection of Houston’s Logan Hall. Then, trading up from pick No. 60 to pick No. 57, the Bucs added to their offensive line, drafting Luke Goedeke out of Central Michigan. And to round out day two, the team spent pick No. 91 on Arizona State running back Rachaad White.
Thursday night’s trade meant the Bucs would open up both day two and day three of the draft, so on Saturday, they got things going by selecting Washington tight end Cade Otton with the first pick of the fourth round (No. 106). Here, we have three things to know about the fourth member of Tampa Bay’s 2022 draft class.
Otton comes from a football family
To say football runs in Otton’s blood might be a bit cliche, but that doesn’t make it any less true. Growing up in Tumwater, Washington, Otton grew up in a football family. His grandfather, Sid, coached high school football for 49 seasons and is the state’s all-time winningest prep coach, having won six state championships. Otton’s dad, Tim, served as the defensive coordinator under Sid at Tumwater High School. Even his uncle, Brad, was a two-year starting quarterback at USC in the 1990s before signing with the then-Washington Redskins as an undrafted free agent. That’s a lot of football lineage and success to live up to, and Otton has done so impressively.
Playing at Tumwater, Otton played a key role in four consecutive playoff seasons and a 47-5 record. Not only was he the team’s tight end—he also played linebacker and served as the long-snapper. He was an all-state tight end and linebacker as a junior in 2015 before being named the 2A State Player of the Year as a senior in 2016. After such a successful four-year career, Otton left with school records for catches (95), receiving yards (1,705) and receiving touchdowns (33).
CONGRATULATIONS to TBird Alum Cade Otton!— Tumwater ‘Winning’ Football (@TBirdFootball) April 30, 2022
Drafted in the 4th Rd at No. 106 by the @Buccaneers
Cade becomes the 4th Player in Tumwater Football History to reach the National Football League, joining TBird greats Brad Otton, Ivan Gustafson, and Matt Johnson.#NGUNNGU pic.twitter.com/LfJn5jpio5
A three-star recruit and the No. 8 recruit in the state of Washington, Otton chose to stay home and sign with the Washington Huskies over BYU, Eastern Washington, Nebraska, Harvard, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon State, Portland State, Wyoming and Yale. He told the Tampa media on Saturday afternoon that he feels like he was born with a football in his hands, and while he may have said it in jest, there’s likely plenty of truth to it.
Otton is the fourth Washington player drafted by Jason Licht during his Bucs tenure
Since being hired as Tampa Bay’s general manager in 2014, Jason Licht has created something of a University of Washington pipeline. Otton is the fourth Washington player drafted by Licht, joining Austin Seferian-Jenkins (2014 second round), Vita Vea (2018 first round) and Joe Tryon-Shoyinka (2021 first round). Not to mention, Benning Potoa’e is another former Husky on the Bucs’ roster.
Speaking with the Tampa media on Saturday, Otton said he is excited to reunite with Tryon-Shoyinka, who he considers a friend. As a tight end, Otton would have line up against Tryon-Shoyinka off the edge plenty of times in practice. He mentioned Saturday that they had a lot of great battles and that he’s looking forward to having more when he gets to Tampa. Based on the 2021 first-round pick’s tweet, it sure seems like he’s ready for a reunion as well:
Overall, Otton is the ninth Washington player to be drafted by the Bucs in their history. Before Seferian-Jenkins, Vea, Tryon-Shoyinka and Otton, Tampa Bay had selected Rick Mallory (1984 ninth round), Ron Holmes (1985 first round), Pete Pierson (1994 fifth round), Marquis Cooper (2004 third round) and Mason Foster (2011 third round).
Otton is also the 10th Pac-12 player drafted by the Bucs in Licht’s tenure, joining his three fellow Washington Huskies, the team’s 2022 third-round pick Rachaad White (Arizona State), Matt Gay (2019 fifth round, Utah), Ronald Jones II (2018 second round, USC), Stevie Tu’ikolovatu (2017 seventh round, USC), Caleb Benenoch (2016 fifth round, UCLA) and Kaelin Clay (2015 sixth round, Utah).
He’s an all-around tight end who takes pride in his blocking and pass-catching
By selecting Otton, Tampa Bay filled a significant need at the tight end position. With O.J. Howard gone and Rob Gronkowski’s status up in the air, the Bucs had only Cameron Brate and Codey McElroy on the roster prior to Saturday. Enter Otton, who possesses strong pass-catching ability while also taking pride in contributing as a blocking tight end. The Bucs are sure to ask him to do it all, which is what he’s used to doing. Per Pro Football Focus, Otton was one of the five tight ends in this year’s draft class to log over 900 snaps as a blocker. Pair that with 91 catches, 1,026 yards and nine touchdowns in 39 games (35 starts) at Washington, and you have what looks like a complete tight end.
One thing that jumps out with this TE class: experience.— Connor Rogers (@ConnorJRogers) December 30, 2021
Per @pff - these guys have logged over *900* snaps blocking
-Cade Otton, Washington
-Trey McBride, Colorado State
-Isaiah Likely, Coastal Carolina
-Jalen Wydermyer, Texas A&M
-Jake Ferguson, Wisconsin
Of course, what Otton will be asked to do as a rookie may depend on whether the Bucs have Gronkowski come back for another season. Regardless, the 23-year-old may very well represent the future of the position in Tampa Bay, especially with Brate turning 31 later this summer. Otton told the Tampa media on Saturday that he blocked in-line, in space and from the fullback position during his time with the Huskies, and he told The Draft Network earlier this year that he loves to compete as a blocker:
“I think it’s more of a mentality thing than anything. I love being able to compete in that way. I think the two biggest things about run blocking are technique and want to. There’s not a ton of guys that have enthusiasm about blocking. If you don’t have that feeling, it’s impossible to be truly effective and dominant in that area. I take a lot of pride in having a great mentality and approach to run blocking. I try to play as an extension of the offensive line in terms of nastiness and technique. I want to stretch the edge and things of that nature. I just bring that mentality, technique, and experience with me. It’s led to some success for me as a run blocker. I can definitely be better but I’ll always keep the right mentality going forward.”
Otton’s willingness to do the dirty work in addition to catching the football will serve him well in the NFL, and especially in Tampa Bay.
So, Bucs Nation, Cade Otton is your newest tight end. You can find him on Twitter @CadeOtton. Be sure to congratulate him and welcome him to Tampa Bay!