Green Bay Packers Prospects to Know: TE Cade Otton

Nov 28, 2020; Seattle, Washington, USA; Washington Huskies tight end Cade Otton (87) reacts after catching a touchdown pass against the Utah Utes during the fourth quarter at Alaska Airlines Field at Husky Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 28, 2020; Seattle, Washington, USA; Washington Huskies tight end Cade Otton (87) reacts after catching a touchdown pass against the Utah Utes during the fourth quarter at Alaska Airlines Field at Husky Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports /
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Not that improvements can’t be made, but with Robert Tonyan returning, the Green Bay Packers have their pass-catching threat at the tight end position. They are also well equipped with blockers at the position, with Marcedes Lewis, Josiah Deguara, and Dominique Dafney–all of whom finished in the top-17 in run-blocking grade last season. Meanwhile, Tyler Davis and Alize Mack are intriguing players.

However, as we all know, the NFL draft is about planning ahead and not only trying to fill current needs. As we look ahead to 2023, tight end becomes a massive need with only Deguara under contract.

With the Green Bay Packers having seven picks within the first four rounds, it certainly feels like one of those selections will be spent on the tight end position–and a name to know is Cade Otton from Washington.

Otton measured in at 6’5″ – 247 pounds, but he was unable to do any athletic testing at either the combine or Washington’s pro-day as he is still recovering from ankle surgery, which cut his 2021 season short. However, a report from CBS Sports suggests that Otton will be ready for training camp.

Otton isn’t overly dynamic, but he is a very reliable pass-catcher and brings a well-rounded skill-set to the position–able to affect both the running and passing games. Over his career, he caught 76% of his 113 targets at 11.5 yards per catch with nine touchdowns. As a pass-catcher, Otton has done a lot of damage over the middle of the field, and as Lance Zierlein writes below, he did so against both man and zone coverages.

During the most recent 2021 season, which consisted of only eight games due to the aforementioned ankle injury, Otton caught 28 passes on 43 targets at 8.9 yards per catch with a touchdown.

Coming from the Washington offense, Otton has ample experience as a blocker, with almost 1,100 career run-blocking snaps, according to PFF ($$). And for what it’s worth, he has graded out well as a run-blocker over his entire career.

Otton primarily lined up in-line, but 32% of his snaps came from the slot as well. It’s also worth noting that he has 170 career special teams snaps.

For more on Otton’s game, Lance Zierlien of NFL.com had this to say:

"“Four-year starter who will be next up from a program with a history of turning out NFL talent at tight end. Otton is an instinctive route-runner with agile feet in tight quarters and a great feel for changing speeds inside the route. He has sudden, reliable hands, and is skilled and athletic enough to shine against man or zone coverages. As with all UW tight ends, Otton was expected to block for the run game and did so with adequate technique. He will need to bolster his play strength and aggression levels to better execute his blocking itinerary at the next level. He’s an ascending combination tight end with starting talent. He should become a more productive pro than college player as a likely Day 2 selection.”"

Now for a different perspective, here is a look at what The Draft Network’s Drae Harris had to say about Otton:

"“Cade Otton is a sufficient-level athlete with regards to downfield speed and separation quickness as a route-runner. In the run game, he is a very good in-line blocker with good power at the point of attack. He has some nastiness and tenacity to him in the run game. In the passing game, he demonstrates the football IQ and versatility to align at Y, F, or H. He has a very good catch radius and strong hands to pluck the football. He lacks elite separation quickness at the top of the route but does a good job catching the football away from his frame. He is a mismatch up the seams against smaller linebackers and does outstanding work between the numbers.”"

Otton very well could end up being a Day 2 selection, where the Green Bay Packers currently have three picks–although it is unknown if his ankle injury and not being able to test will impact his draft stock.

Tight end is a very difficult position to transition to from college to the NFL level. Tight ends need to know blocking assignments and techniques like offensive linemen as well as route concepts like a receiver. Rarely do we see rookie tight ends make any sort of significant impact in that first year.

So with that in mind and knowing what the tight end room looks like in 2023, addressing the position now and giving Otton — or any rookie — the opportunity to develop behind Tonyan and Lewis would be an ideal scenario. Then that player will hopefully assume a much larger role in their second season.