The Buccaneers made a good pick in Cade Otton in the fourth round of the 2022 NFL Draft, but teams need to be wary of rookie tight ends.
Of all the positions in the NFL, tight end might be the hardest to expect much from a rookie. The position is incredibly difficult for guys that are going to truly play the role (unlike players like Kyle Pitts that look more like receivers), and the Buccaneers need to keep this in mind with Cade Otton.
Otton was a quality pick in the fourth round that should pan out to be a decent player in the NFL. However, expecting that player to be here in year one is a bit too optimistic.
The Buccaneers have a proven starting tight end in Cameron Brate, and Rob Gronkowski should come back before the start of the season, but Gronk making the decision to retire should send the Bucs to the free agent market for their second starter.
Again, Otton projects to be a decent player, very similar to Brate, but you aren’t going to get that in year one, and no one wants to waste Tom Brady’s time with only one quality tight end-even in an offense that doesn’t rely on tight ends.
Just look at the rookie seasons for some familiar faces at the position across the league. George Kittle had 515 yards in year one. Gronk had 546. T.J. Hockenson had 367 yards as a rookie. While he was a different prospect and in a different position, it took Cameron Brate two years to crack 300 yards through the air (Brate is a better numbers example to follow).
The position doesn’t translate well in year one. That’s ok-the Bucs don’t need Otton to be dominant in 2022. This is a pick for the future in an attempt to keep as many weapons in Tampa for the post-Brady world that we are moving close to.
Cade Otton can still do well in year one without showing up on the stat sheet, but Bucs fans need to be careful about who they pencil in as an offensive starer this early or rule out on the free agent market based on projections regarding a rookie tight end.
Give Otton his time to grow and he can be a great player. Throw him into the fire in year one with unreal expectations and there will be disappointment from a lot of different directions.
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