Cade Otton, Washington TE | NFL Draft Scouting Report

Is Washington TE Cade Otton's NFL Draft scouting report worthy of an early-round selection? What kind of value can he provide?

The Washington Huskies have sneakily become a quasi-factory at the tight end position, and 2022 NFL Draft TE prospect Cade Otton might be next in line. Their success developing tight ends began at the turn of the century, and decades later, the Huskies’ TE legacy continues with players like Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Will Dissly, and Drew Sample. Let’s examine how Otton’s scouting report compares.

Cade Otton NFL Draft Profile

  • Position: Tight End
  • School: Washington
  • Current Year: Redshirt Senior
  • Height: 6’5″
  • Weight: 250 pounds
  • Wingspan: 79 1/2″
  • Arm: 32 3/4″
  • Hand: 9 1/2″

Cade Otton Scouting Report

Otton could have entered the 2021 NFL Draft but instead chose to return for his redshirt-senior season, aiming to claim a Pac-12 title and more with his teammates. Washington’s season didn’t go that smoothly, but Otton still offers intrigue as a prospect. What makes Otton such an interesting player? Let’s dive in.

Otton’s athletic profile

Athleticism is incredibly important for tight ends — more so than most other positions. There’s an athletic threshold below which tight ends consistently struggle to produce at the NFL level. Luckily for Otton, while he’s not an elite athlete, he seems to clear this threshold.

The Washington TE stands out with a reasonably long 6’5″, 250-pound frame. He possesses good short-area burst for his size, and he has the natural quickness necessary to make sharp direction changes with relative ease. Additionally, he can use this short-area burst to stack blocks and build momentum as a utility player. He’s also able to build speed quickly after changing directions with above-average explosiveness.

Otton’s athletic traits are most evident in the route-running phase. The Washington TE has definite lateral twitch as a route runner, and he’s a smooth, natural mover who combines motions easily, sinking his hips in and out of breaks. With this mobility, Otton is also an effective lead blocker, and his speed and length provide adequate conduits.

Among other things, Otton has nice closing burst at the catch point. He also flashes quick footwork at his route stems to effectively channel his athletic traits and shift directions quickly.

Execution beyond the physical traits

Otton’s athletic floor is more than serviceable. However, even if it weren’t, he’d still have plenty of suitors thanks to his operational traits. Otton shows a lot of promise mentally, both as a receiver and as a blocker.

In the receiving game, Otton actively utilizes head fakes to open spaces as a route runner. He also uses his footwork to halt his momentum and sit in open areas. Otton employs varying stride lengths at different stages of routes, and he understands how to use his physicality and leverage to fight through contact at the stem.

Otton’s prowess as a receiver doesn’t stop there. The Washington TE has the spatial awareness to stay open in the flats, and he’s willing to lower his shoulder and grind out extra yards. Otton is tough at the catch point. He uses his length and smooth contortion ability to corral passes safely, and he’s unfazed in tight spaces. He catches passes while anticipating contact. Rarely is he skittish or unfocused.

Even in clutch situations, Otton’s hands are reliable. He guides the ball in and secures it quickly. His hands are fairly strong in 50/50 territory. On top of his receiving ability, Otton also shows off good blocking utility. He brings an intense, combative attitude as a blocker, exuding effort and urgency. Furthermore, he stays true to his assignments and flashes the torso flexibility necessary to absorb power.

It also must be noted that Otton is versatile. He can line up inline, in the slot, or outside. That flexibility only compounds his value.

Areas for improvement

As good as Otton is, the Washington TE can improve in several areas. Most notably, his frame isn’t incredibly burly, and he’s sometimes outmuscled as a blocker. Thus, Otton doesn’t offer a ton of power, and he can sometimes lack control due to strength mismatches. His extensions aren’t incredibly forceful, and he can get overmatched easily. Additionally, his balance is inconsistent. His lacking frame density hurts him here as well.

As a receiver, Otton is strong but is not immune to criticism. He sometimes rounds off his breaks, minimizing separation potential. He can aim to make his footwork more consistently sudden and abrupt. Otton can stand to refine his route tree a bit more, even if it’s already relatively solid.

The Washington TE can get better depth when sneaking behind linebackers. He can also cut down on wasted motion at times. While many of his qualms are operational, however, there’s also the issue of Otton’s upside.

While Otton’s a good athlete, he doesn’t have elite long speed or sheer explosiveness. He isn’t a dynamic run-after-catch threat, and his vertical athleticism doesn’t pop, either.

Otton’s NFL Draft scouting report overview

Otton could still stand to improve his play strength ahead of the 2022 NFL Draft. However, as it stands, he’s already an underrated tight end prospect with a scouting report that boasts plenty of positives.

Otton is an above-average athlete with exceptional awareness and urgency, and he’s also an impressive route runner given his experience level. He can still improve, but Otton has the tools to get open all across the field, and he can also convert in contested situations.

Otton’s hands can be a bit more consistent, as there were a few more focus drops on his 2021 tape. He didn’t quite take the desired leap in his final season, but that’s not all on him. Washington’s offense underperformed as a whole, and Otton suffered partly as a result. Thus, he may be a bit undervalued heading into the draft.

Otton is a bit light physically, but he still does enough as a blocker on tape to warrant confidence. He has the attitude and athleticism to be serviceable in that phase. As a receiver, Otton boasts many of the necessary traits to be a decent starter or strong rotational tight end at the NFL level. He may be relegated to Day 3 after an unspectacular final season, but he’s a good enough athlete and a willing blocker with strong nuance as a route runner.

Otton’s Player Profile

Watching Otton’s tape, the Washington TE simply exudes “football guy.” He’s big and reasonably athletic but also tirelessly competitive and energetic. His blocking attitude emanates team-first energy, an energy instilled in Otton in his high school days.

Otton played high school football at Turnwater High School, where he played tight end, linebacker, and long snapper, providing value wherever his team needed it. Ultimately, Otton’s highest value came at tight end. There, he was a historic producer for his school. As a senior, he put up 39 catches for 733 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Otton’s production put him on the radar of Power Five schools, but the 6’5″, 220-pound player’s range was largely limited to the western United States. Rated as a three-star recruit, Otton had offers from BYU, Nevada, Nebraska, Oregon State, and Wyoming. Ultimately, the chance to play in-state for the Washington Huskies was too enticing to pass up.

Otton’s career at Washington

Otton redshirted his freshman year, remaining on the bench during that time. As a redshirt freshman in 2018, Otton started 10 of the 14 games he played, logging 13 catches for 174 yards and 3 touchdowns. He started all 13 games for the Huskies in 2019, amassing 344 yards and 2 touchdowns on 32 catches.

Expectations were sky-high for the productive playmaker in 2020. In a shortened season, the Huskies went 3-1, and Otton put up his most efficient season yet. In those four games, Otton had 18 catches for 258 yards and 3 touchdowns, averaging 4.5 catches and 64.5 yards per game. He earned first-team All-Pac-12 honors as a result.

Unfortunately for Otton, his decision to return to school wasn’t entirely fruitful. He played in eight games, picking up 250 yards and a touchdown on 28 catches before an ankle injury ended his season.

Even so, as long as Otton’s medicals check out, there’s reason to believe he could be more productive as a pro than he was in Washington’s offense. Otton is reasonably athletic, tough, and incredibly versatile. He can get open, make contested catches, and block on both passing and running downs. The ability is all there. His injury will dilute his stock a bit, but Otton could be a great value deal on early-to-mid Day 3.

Tony Pauline’s scouting report for Cade Otton

Positives: Nice-sized tight end who is fluid releasing off the line, displays good route discipline, and uses his frame to shield away opponents. Nicely makes the reception on crossing patterns, catches the ball with his hands, and takes a pounding, yet holds onto the throw. Settles into the open spot of the defense, displays good eye/hand coordination, and possesses soft hands. Shows excellent vision as a blocker, always looks for someone to hit, and works to finish off opponents.

Negatives: Struggles finishing blocks and gets pushed back off the line. Plays to one speed and isn’t a downfield pass-catching tight end. Coming off a disappointing season.

Analysis: Otton was a consistent force at Washington and holds a lot of upside for the next level. He needs to finish his game and be placed in the proper system, but Otton could eventually start on Sundays.

Ian Cummings is a Draft Analyst for Pro Football Network. You can find his writing here and follow him on Twitter: @IC_Draft.

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