The Tampa Bay Buccaneers double-dipped at the tight end position on day three of the 2022 NFL Draft, which might hint at Rob Gronkowski plans.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers started off the day three festivities in the 2022 NFL Draft by selecting Washington tight end Cade Otton. Otton played in 31 games in his time with the Huskies. The production was likely a concern on the surface (his best season was in 2019 with 32 catches, 344 yards, two touchdowns), but the Huskies offense was awful in 2021.
Otton’s ability inline is there, and he can be attached to the line as a “Y” tight end from the get go. He has great hand placement, generates good pop at his initial strike, and can drive defenders off their spot in the run game. While Otton isn’t the most refined route runner, he still has reliable hands and is tough to bring down after the catch.
Then, the Buccaneers doubled down, selecting Ko Kieft later in the day. Kieft has often been described as the best blocking tight end in the entire draft, and it shows because he’s only had 12 catches in his entire college career.
The interesting thing about this double-dip is what it means for Rob Gronkowski. Gronkowski hasn’t signed back with the Buccaneers just yet, and this could mean he isn’t around for some time. At the very least, it means that the Bucs want insurance in case Gronkowski doesn’t start the season on the roster and comes around late for a postseason push.
Even if he doesn’t come back, the Buccaneers still have the insurance of inline talent to protect Tom Brady and open up holes in the running game for Leonard Fournette. Otton still has pass catching upside, but they do still have Cameron Brate as well. The tight end room is full for Brady, no matter what happens with Gronkowski.