How will top Buccaneers rookie TE fare this season?

Cade Otton, Tampa Bay Buccaneers(Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
Cade Otton, Tampa Bay Buccaneers(Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

After the somewhat-surprising news of Rob Gronkowski’s retirement, pushing aside the inevitable rumors that have already begun about a mid-season return, the Buccaneers tight end depth is questionable.

The Bucs know what they have in the veteran Cameron Brate. Brate is solid and dependable, a reliable pass catcher, and serviceable blocker. Behind Brate, though, will be incoming rookie Cade Otton.

Cade Otton is a bit of a puzzle for many Bucs fans as we do not get to watch many Washington Huskies games, so how will Cade fare in the Tom Brady led offense?

Tampa Bay under Bruce Arians frequently used two tight end sets, and I don’t expect that to change under Todd Bowles, especially with Byron Leftwich still as the offensive coordinator and Tom Brady still under center.

Even with Bowles wanting to implement more of a run game than we have seen in previous years, two tight end sets will only help boost that strategy as it allows for an extra blocker on the line and helps sell the play-action game as it gives interior defensive keys something else to worry about by selling the run as an option, particularly if either TE runs a delayed route through selling early with a chip block before peeling out.

This sort of offensive misdirection is something that Tampa has had success with previously and will likely look to continue this year.

With that being said, Cade Otton will have to be able to step into an early role in the Tampa Bay offense as that second tight end.

Otton was a playmaker in college, but it’s hard to judge him by his statistics. Cade played just 12 games total during his last 2 years in college, as the PAC 12 had a pandemic shortened 2020 season, and Cade missed time due to injury in the 2021 season.

Cade finished his college career with an average catch rate of 76.5% during his four seasons. Comparatively, the first TE off the board in the 2022 draft, Trey Mcbride(round 2 pick of the Arizona Cardinals), averaged a 66.3% catch rate in his four year college career.

In all of those seasons, Cade posted an average target share of less than 10.5% only once, which was his freshman year, and that is even including the fact that he missed four games with an injury in his final season.

This means that when Cade had the opportunity to be on the field, his QBs trusted him enough to target him, he got open, and had a fairly high catch rate. This should prime him to be a solid secondary target for Tom Brady during his rookie season.

Otton will have to continue to develop as a blocker as he was serviceable but not great in this area.

This is where I think he can excel with the chip and run routes, giving him the ability to fool defenses, and keep Tom Brady clean in the pocket before sneaking out in an underneath route to catch a dump off pass.

The speed of NFL defensive ends will likely be overwhelming compared to what he faced in the PAC 12 and it will take time for him to develop enough to be the blocker that Gronk was, or even that Cameron Brate is, and this will keep him as a secondary tight end until he can develop, but he does have a path to success and early playing time as a rookie if the Bucs do not add another veteran TE in free agency.

Trending. Reporter has optimistic take on Buccaneers critical player. light

Want to write about the Buccaneers? Apply below!

The Pewter Plank
The Pewter Plank /

Want your voice heard? Join the The Pewter Plank team!

Write for us!