Cade Otton came into the season with high expectations and like the team as a whole, he was not able to live up to them. Coming off a fantastic showing in the pandemic-shortened season, Otton was the number one option for Dylan Morris and the Husky offense. He was largely taken out of the game by opposing defenses due to the connection that he and Morris shared. A foot injury and COVID issues plagued his season as he ended up missing most of the year. He will look to bounce back as a rookie at a position where many first-year players don't make much of an impact, however, due to Otton’s skill set he has a chance to be an exception.
Otton has enjoyed a long career at Washington, he was a three-star recruit coming out of high school from Tumwater High School that was 47-5 during his career. He played on varsity as a freshman before going on to start as a sophomore. His high school career only took off after that, he started at linebacker, tight end, and was also his team's long snapper. Otton was named All-State and 2A player of the year by the AP.
In his first year with the Huskies Otton redshirted but that did not keep him from making his mark as he was named Ultimate Bird Dawg for his achievements in strength and conditioning. Otton would go on to start for the next three seasons for the Huskies, gathering over 1,000 career receiving yards.
Weight: 247 Pounds
Arm Length: 32 3/4”
Wingspan: 79 1/2”
Hand Size: 9 1/2”
Each trait is graded on a 20-80 scale (very similar to how the MLB grades prospects) that Neptune Scouting’s Alex Katson and myself developed to better communicate player grades. More information about this new scale can be found here.
Vertical Threat (45 - Fringe-Average): This is simply not the way Otton wins from snap to snap. He lacks true threatening long speed that would make him a downfield threat from the tight end position. However, Otton does have a knack for finding space down the seam he gets off the line quickly and finds space in the defense with ease. Will be much more of a short to intermediate tight end but that is not to say he won’t make long gains here and there.
Route Running (70 - Star): He is an extremely advanced and knowledgeable route runner who has clearly worked to perfect this part of his game as he has gained more and more experience. Despite his size, Otton is very quick stemming his route and getting out of breaks, he effectively drops his hips to move well laterally despite a lack of high-end athleticism. He will be able to come into the NFL and run a full route tree, which may lead to more production than most rookie tight ends see.
Strength (60 - Above Average): Otton is strong both as a receiver and as a blocker, he is willing to be physical at the catch point as well as at the line of scrimmage. Otton will have some work to do as he transitions to the next level, he does need to continue to add strength. Otton is able to power over defenders with the ball in his hands, has excellent lower body power that allows him to run defenders over or shed contact.
Ball Skills (60 - Above Average): As a receiver, Otton creates mismatches due to his size and prowess as a route runner. He can line up detached as a receiver or inline. He has extremely dependable hands that made him a true security blanket for Washington’s quarterbacks during his time with the team. He has the ability to high point passes and work through contact but does not have impressive leaping ability. Will still be a threat in the red zone due to his length and height.
Contested Catch (55 - Above Average): The ability to play through contact is something that is extremely evident in Otton’s game, he is easily able to make contested catches and box defenders out from the ball. His length and size really serve him well here as he is able to bail his quarterback out from bad throws or highpoint passes so that defenders are unable to make a play on it. Does lack impressive leaping ability that could limit him in this area.
Explosiveness (40 - Below Average): Otton is not an explosive or particularly dynamic athlete, it is clear that he understands this as he has spent time refining his route running so that he can make up for this. Otton can struggle at times to fire out of breaks quickly or get up to speed down the field. This is again not really how he wins as a receiver so it is not a glaring concern for him at the next level.
Blocking (75 - Elite): Extremely high-level blocker, Otton will find his way onto the field quickly in the NFL due to his prowess in this area. The Michigan game was so important for him as he was able to go one-on-one with David Ojabo and Aidan Hutchinson and hold his own, even locking up Ojabo on his own on numerous occasions. Otton has tremendous strength at the point of attack, plays with good leverage, and has strong hands. At the next level, Otton will be able to stick around for a long time due to his ability as a blocker, teams will always be able to find a role for him.
Run After Catch (45 - Fringe-Average): Otton is really not very dynamic in this area, he is not a high-level athlete and does not show that he can make defenders miss in the open field. However, Otton is extremely willing to lower his head and initiate contact, he shows that he is willing to stiff-arm incoming defenders in order to pick up extra yards. His physicality definitely shows here.
Versatility (50 - Average): Otton is much more of an inline tight end in the NFL, he played split out for the Huskies at times so he does have that ability but it is not something he should do frequently. His proficiency as a blocker should lead to coaches understanding the impact he can have as an attached blocker with the ability to create mismatches as a receiver.
Size (70 - Star): Otton possesses a prototype frame for a modern NFL tight end, he has the height to thrive in the red zone and the length to make him a security blanket for his quarterback. Otton does have some extra room to continue adding weight with broad shoulders and a lower body that is not yet maxed out.
Final Grade and Summary
Ceiling Grade: 8.2 (Average Starter)
Otton’s willingness and strength as a blocker will allow him to get on the field in the NFL early on so that he can adjust to the speed of the game quickly. If he is able to translate what he did as a receiver for UW to his next team Otton will find success and make a name for himself as a TE1 for an offense. He can become a dependable outlet option for his quarterback. If Otton hits his ceiling he will be able to dominate the short and intermediate parts of the field and never really come out of the lineup due to his blocking skills.
Floor Grade: 7.4 (High-Level Backup)
The floor for Otton will come in if he is not able to fully develop or impact the game as a pass-catcher. The limited athleticism could lead to lesser separation and lesser targets coming his way. However, if the worst does come Otton will always find a role as a TE2/TE3 on a team due to his blocking. This will be invaluable to coaching staffs around the league so carving out a role as a long-term backup should be no problem for him if he is not able to impact the game as a pass-catcher as much as he showed he could in college.
Round Grade: 3rd Round
Summary: Cade Otton was a tremendous player during his career at Washington. He was a very under-the-radar leader for Husky teams that had trouble finding a true answer at quarterback for most of his career. Otton became the favorite target for Dylan Morris these past two seasons. He dealt with an injury this season that kept him from truly being the impact player he could be but he still showed that he will keep his head down and excel as a blocker for a team that wanted to run the ball despite their struggles. Otton should find a home on day two of the draft and be given all the chances to claim a starting role early on in his career. Despite the disappointment that was this past season the future is extremely bright for the talented tight end.
Injury Risk/Character Concerns: Suffered a foot injury this season that kept him out of the combine and missed multiple games, which is not seen as a long-term concern.