Jason Licht: Bucs Have Their Do-It-All Tight End

March 30th, 2023

Bucs TE Cade Otton.

The Bucs weren’t able to replace the punishing blocking of future Hall of Fame tight end Rob Gronkowski last season.

Veteran Kyle Rudolph was a bust. Cameron Brate looked washed in his ninth season. Ko Kieft looked more like a fullback, and fellow rookie Cade Otton was no Gronk.

So Joe asked general manager Jason Licht on Tuesday whether Otton is the kind of blocker the Bucs need to be successful, or do the Bucs need to shop for a tight end who can command the line of scrimmage?

“I definitely think he is, and [new offensive coordinator] Dave [Canales] does as well,” Licht replied about Otton.

“We all feel that way. He’s going to get better this year. I’m not going to say there’s not a big emphasis on the ability to block, but in this offense, you know we just need guys that are tenacious and stay after it, not necessarily a roadgrader. Those roadgrader blockers, the Gronkowskis, or few and far between.”

Interesting to hear Licht emphasize that the new Bucs offense won’t rely on a mauling tight end, presumably the way the Bucs did under Bucco Bruce Arians and Byron Leftwich.

As for Otton capable of blocking in a way the Bucs need, that means he’s now primed to be an every-down tight end. Otton flashed often last season but he also found inconsistency. So Joe isn’t quite sure what the Bucs have in Otton.

Regardless, he looks like a solid fourth-round pick in 2022, and Otton’s stock certainly rises if he can block the way Licht and friends think he can.

32 Responses to “Jason Licht: Bucs Have Their Do-It-All Tight End”

  1. MadMax Says:

    We def need another TE. I want D Washington but if we decide to go with one later, Tucker Kraft in the 4th would be good.

  2. LUVMYBUCS Says:

    Day 3 Potential Pick(s)

    • Luke Schoonmaker – Height: 6’5” | Weight: 251 | 40 Time: 4.63
    • Tucker Kraft – Height: 6’5” | Weight: 254 | 40 Time: 4.69
    • Zack Kuntz – Height: 6’7” | Weight: 255 | 40 Time: 4.55
    • Davis Allen – Height: 6’6” | Weight: 245 | 40 Time: 4.84

  3. Warrenfb12 Says:

    Our TE are bad. No legit threat in the seam, teams just play 2 deep and keep Godwin and Mike in check. Offense wasn’t close to the same when Gronk left.

  4. DoooshLaRue Says:

    Kuntz #69 would make a helluva jersey.

  5. Beej Says:

    Last year I was absolutely certain that McBride was the next Gronk, I think the Cards got him, but he was invisible all year

  6. Christopher Says:

    ^Proof positive that an ignorant screen name typically comes along with an ignorant person posting ignorant content.

  7. Dooley Says:

    In Otton we’ve got a TE that has the ability to run any route off the tree well, needs to get stronger as an inline blocker, but can certainly develop into a well rounded enough player at his position to be TE1. Otton isn’t the greatest athlete, but he also uses his IQ to set defenders up gearing up/down within his routes, uses his shoulders to sell hesitations, and makes catches in/out of his frame really well and comfortably makes receptions with his hands. Do we need to add another TE? Maybe, but it’s not a pressing need with 3 reserves behind Otton & Kieft.

  8. Lt. Dan Says:

    Otton will be one year removed from the college life style this year. He’ll get in the gym this off season and put on man weight – no doubt about it.

  9. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    We’ve only got 2 TEs…..so it’s likely we draft at least 1……I suspect we will draft one in the first 3 rounds…….there are several prospects…..We just might have the choice of the #1 TE @ 19.

  10. Buc4evr Says:

    Otton kind of strikes me like Brate. A great route running and receiving TE, but not very good with blocking assignments. More than a few times he didn’t pick up a rusher last year and got Brady in trouble. Hope we draft a big blocking TE this year.

  11. Jeff Says:

    Lol! This dude won’t be in the league in 3 years. I wish Light wouldn’t pump up guys with low ceilings.

  12. Jvato24 Says:

    Draft Kuntz!!!

  13. Steven007 Says:

    Jeff, I understand that your shtick is constant negativity, but I think you blew it with otton. To me he seems a type that will be in the league for a long time actually. You do realize he had by far the best numbers of any drafted tight end last year. Decent to above average hands. And should definitely be able to improve as a blocker. Those guys typically last.

  14. Cobraboy Says:

    Otton will be fine. Few rooks show every-down consistency. I suspect if you go back and look at Gronk’s rookie films, you’d see some flaws in his game.

    Nobody blocked well last season outside Wirfs, and he was subpar from prior years.

    Certainly, the team needs another TE, but I don’t see any critical need to use a high pick on one with so many other holes on the OL & DL.

  15. Cobraboy Says:

    I wonder if casual Falcon fans think Pitts is a bust because he does not block like Gronk.

    BTW, Keift reminds me a lot of an upscale Alan Cross, a positive statement, a Swiss Army knife of a TE/H-back hybrid. I’d like to see him in more FB sets, if Canales is genuinely committed to the run. The more Big Uglies with Momentum you throw at a D, the more ground yards you pound.

    The ’22 Bucs had to be one of the worst 3rd-and-short teams in NFL history. I notice nobody has picked up “Playoff Lenny.”

  16. chark Says:

    “Last year I was absolutely certain that McBride was the next Gronk, I think the Cards got him, but he was invisible all year” Huh??
    I like how everyone is an expert on grading blocking..lol
    Anyways a good comp for Otton is Heath Miller former steeler TE if he improves that is his ceiling

  17. Chris@Apple Roof Cleaning Tampa Says:

    I agree with CobraBoy, in the run game you can never have too many Big Uglies

  18. SlyPirate Says:

    “Road-grading, blocking TEs are few and far between.”

    Darnell Washington … oh yea … that’s one. Grab him in R2.

  19. Browsing from DC Says:

    I’m optimistic about Otton. Last season was a rookie audition of sorts under extreme conditions. Makeshift OL, poor play calling and, due to the OL, most passing plays were frantic and hurried, which can lead to drops.

    Will he be all-world at blocking? I doubt it. Will he be able to do the job? I think absolutely with proper coaching. Nobody compares to Gronk (except maybe Ditka back in the day) and it’s unfair to Otton to expect him to.

    What I personally care about is what’s between his ears. Can he learn to read defenses and be able to improvise to find the holes and be on the same page as the QB.

    Guys like Gronk and Kelce have high football IQs. It’s always a shocker (but shouldn’t be) to see Kelce wide-ass open constantly in a game. It’s not that they don’t try to cover him and try to take him out of the game plan, he knows where the receivers are going, sees the coverage and knows where they’re likely to go at the snap and he finds the daylight.

    My only concern going into next season (aside rom Bowles…fingers crossed there) is getting the O-line back in good shape. The new OC is a question mark also but with a decent OL and the weapons (if healthy) we should be ok.

  20. a-bomb Says:

    Well JBF fans, Ron DeSantis and his Thought Police are attempting to change Florida’s libel laws so that media outlets (and individuals) are much more susceptible to legal liability for their posts. This includes things like “presuming” that anonymous sources are false.

    The expectation is that most small media outlets (including blogging sites such as JBF) will likely be put out of business. Perhaps more directly consequential to most is that you could be individually liable for the content of your posts.

    If you care about free press and the free exchange of ideas, please contact your representatives and tell them to reject DeSantis’ push for control of the media.

  21. Enrique Says:

    Took the words right out of my mouth; don’t sleep on Otton moving forward! The buccs could use another TE yes; they need to address both offensive AND defensive line this season. Doesn’t matter who is behind center, if the line is trash NOBODY will be able to put numbers on the board.

  22. teacherman777 Says:

    Triple down Licht.

    Get us a 3rd young TE.

    4th round. Great round for a TE or RB or Safety.

  23. 1sparkybuc Says:

    Kieft is noted for his blocking abilities, but he does have dependable hands. I know we will use a day three pick for a TE. I believe TE is the least of our worries on offense.

  24. Cobraboy Says:

    I sat resign OT Smith, put big globs of invisible stick ‘um on his hands, and make him a TE.

  25. Rayswave Says:

    Personally I liked what Otton did last year. Let’s hope he’s in the weight room all summer. Kids got talent. That being said we definitely should draft another TE & maybe bring in a vet for camp see what happens.

  26. 80forBrady Says:

    I’d like to see the Bucs work hard to develop Ko Kieft into a more well rounded player who can catch as well as run block. It will take a lot of work but Ko is a get in the trenches guy who is unafraid of hard work and may well be a diamond in the rough capable of replacing Bucs TE legend Cameron Brate as an end zone target and a clutch 3rd down player with the added bonus of Ko’s strong run blocking.

  27. BucFanforLife Says:

    I will definitely buy a Kuntz jersey and wear it with pride 😂 Whatever team lands him is going to make out like a bandit marketing-wise!

  28. BucsBeBack (Artist formally known as: BringBucsBack) Says:

    Christopher, would you like it if I stated that your name is proof positive that a proper Anglo name assures us of a pompous, unimaginative, seemingly jealous & unprovoked insult from a pompous, unimaginative, seemingly jealous & unprovoked person? Lighten-up man, you are on a football site.

    Doosh doesn’t need my defense but, he is a regular who many of us find quite clever. He’s willing to crawl out to the end of the branch, in search of the sweetest fruit. I for one appreciate that. Give him a chance. He’ll make you laugh one day, if you let him.

  29. Day 1-76 Says:

    Has Licht ever said something negative about a player he drafted? Hell No!! His need to draft players earlier than necessary is a sickness. Otton is a decent player who could have been had in the 5th rd. If you don’t think we need to draft a TE in this draft and believe Goedeke was worth a 2nd you have some issues.

  30. Bo Says:

    I’m sorry but they had their do all tight end in Cameron Brate, one of the most reliable players the Bucs have ever had you don’t get rid of him just because he has one bad season… Very bad move not to mention letting Scotty Miller go… There’s no loyalty in football anymore.

  31. Joe Says:

    I’m sorry but they had their do all tight end in Cameron Brate, one of the most reliable players the Bucs have ever had you don’t get rid of him just because he has one bad season… Very bad move not to mention letting Scotty Miller go…

    Well, Brate struggled to block. At one time he was a helluva receiver. Brate — one of Joe’s favorite players — has been on a steady decline for a few years. He is really done. He’s slow, struggles to get open, is now injury-prone and on the wrong side of 30. Joe was with a long-time NFL quarterback who now works in TV who wants Brate to hang it up, saying with his degree he doesn’t need to get the hell beat out of him just to collect a league-low contract and sit on the bench for a lousy team.

    As for Scotty Miller, can you name three plays (on offense) he’s made since he caught that pass against the Packers? Not a bad special teams player.

    As Dirk Koetter always said, “the NFL is a production league.”

  32. Jonny Says:

    Otton is a willing blocker. But he’s had way too many mental and physical lapses in blocking last year. He can be serviceable like brate used to be as a receiver for many years to come, at the very least and if he improves his blocking, that will definitely make him above average. But of all positions on the field, a TE is especially supposed to be a matchup nightmare for defenses. There’s certainly a gap at that position for a physically imposing and athletic player and if there is one in the draft, we should not ignore that position simply because we have Otton.