Cade Otton Could Be TE1 in April, 2022

Photo Credit: Jennifer Buchanan, USA TODAY Sports

In the 2021 NFL Draft, we saw Kyle Pitts go to the Atlanta Falcons as the first tight end off the board. Pitts is the prototypical tight end in today’s NFL. At 6’6” and 245 pounds with a 4.44 forty time, Pitts has a big body and the athleticism to burn his way through a secondary. With Atlanta looking to move on from Julio Jones, it’s very possible that Pitts becomes the Falcons WR/TE1.

However, the 2022 NFL Draft class is headlined by a bit more of a classic tight end. Cade Otton could have decided to declare for the draft, but chose to remain in school and help the University of Washington Huskies try to make some noise in the Pac-12. 

His numbers so far aren’t eye popping, unless we account for a shortened 2020 season. In four games last year, he recorded 18 catches, 258 receiving yards, and three receiving touchdowns. If we multiply that by three, to account for a regular 12 game season, he would have had 54 catches, 774 receiving yards and nine receiving touchdowns.

Those numbers are on par with Pitts’ 43 receptions, 770 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns. Except, Pitts produced those numbers over only eight games. So, the production from Otton needs to improve, but even if they maintain, they still won’t keep him from being a high draft pick.

Otton has already made a stamp on the Huskies team in 2021 by making an excellent one handed touchdown grab in their spring game. 

This play illustrates exactly what he can make his living on. He’s a big body with reliable hands who can create matchup problems in the red zone. He should be able to put up double digit touchdowns easily, assuming he plays 12 games in 2022.

If he can also add 750+ yards and some nice highlights like this one, he could beat out the top names of this class. Names like Iowa State’s Charlie Kolar, another senior who looks poised to make the leap to the NFL.

Otton isn’t going to set the world on fire with his athleticism, but he doesn’t have lead feet either. His route running is sufficient to create space against most linebackers and he knows how to shield the ball from smaller defenders with his big frame.

The one question I have for Otton is can he stay productive against the better, more athletic linebackers and bigger defensive backs. If he can find ways to stay productive against these types of players, he may just hear his name called as the first tight end off the board in the 2022 NFL Draft.