It's impossible to find any dirt on Cade Otton. As a player, person, personality.
He's soon to be a four-year starter at tight end for the University of Washington football team, a 27-game starter ready to add on another season of opening-game assignments, already a first-team All-Pac-12 selection.
Otton is a family man, the only Husky player who is married, a romantic entering wedlock following last season after getting down on one knee and proposing at Snoqualmie Falls.
He has no discernible ego whatsoever with fellow tight end Jack Westover telling how, when he was an unknown UW walk-on freshman, Otton generously showed him all the position nuances, unconcerned about any pecking order.
C'mon, no parking tickets? No dirty laundry on the floor? No dirty dishes in the sink?
Well, Pro Football Network sized him up as an NFL draft prospect and strained hard to come up with the following quibble:
"As good as Otton is, the Washington TE can improve in several areas. Most notably, his blocking ability is somewhat diluted by his size. At 240 pounds, he’s relatively slight compared to most defensive linemen. Thus, he doesn’t offer a ton of power as a blocker, and he can sometimes lack control due to strength mismatches. His extensions aren’t incredibly forceful, and he can get outmuscled easily."
Not sure when this particular PFN analyst last closely inspected Otton and his ample frame, but the Tumwater, Washington, native now packs 250 pounds. He looks bigger in fall camp, without losing any of his mobility.
He's worked hard to keep even after having a high-performance albeit short pandemic season in 2020, leading the Huskies in receiving with 18 catches for 258 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Anything else to complain about?
"While he’s a good athlete, he doesn’t have elite long speed or sheer explosiveness. He isn’t a very dynamic run-after-catch threat, and his vertical athleticism remains ambiguous as well."
Considering Otton's work ethic, he might be improved in all those areas by now. All right, PFN, do you like him or not? And where would you draft him?
"Otton is already an NFL-ready prospect. He’s 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, and if Otton can put together one dominant full season with those traits, he could potentially crack the top 50."
Otton might be the best combination of the tight ends available nationwide for drafting next April. He's a guy who can catch and block at an elite level, which is a rare combination every draft.
UW tight-ends coach Derham Cato is not shy about calling him perhaps the top college blocker at his position. And he's has the best view of anyone looking at Otton go to work.
"He's pretty special in the run game," Cato said. "I can't say I've studied in depth some of the guys in the other conferences. I'm sure they're highly touted for a reason, as well. But he's pretty dominant at the point of attack. Especially when he gets in combos with those tackles, he can be pretty scary."
If Otton has scared anyone along the way, it wasn't intentional. That's not his nature to frighten people. However, he surely does enjoy the art of serving up a good, clean block and completing the task.
"The big thing is he finishes blocks and he likes to finish blocks, and he likes to finish people," Cato said. "He takes a lot of pride putting guys in the dirt."
OK, we finally found some dirt on Cade Otton, even if it's just residue from a job well done.
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