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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2024 State of the Bucs: Tight Ends 

Taking a position-by-position breakdown as the Buccaneers head into the 2024 season, continuing with tight ends


Position Group: Tight End

Players: Cade Otton, Ko Kieft, Payne Durham, Tanner Taula, David Wells

2023 Evaluation: The Buccaneers were operating out of two tight end sets 28.3% of the time (13th) leading into the Divisional Round. Cade Otton, the Bucs' 2022 fourth-round pick, served as the team's hybrid 'Y' tight end. He played a staggering 97% of the team's snaps in 2023 (1,194). He finished the year with 455 yards on 47 receptions and four touchdowns. Otton posted an average of 9.7 yards per reception and emerged as a threat underneath. The instinctive route runner is able to sink into voids and separate from coverage with fluidity out of breaks. He is adept at selling the run on chip-and-release routes and bolstered the team's offense down the stretch. Whether it was the acrobatic toe-drag catch down the sideline, lethal out-and-up, or back-shoulder touchdown catch against the Lions in the Divisional Round, Otton became an impactful X-factor that moved the chains.

Ko Kieft, the Bucs' 2022 sixth-round pick and primary blocking tight end, notched 230 snaps (19%) in 2023. Kieft plays with a competitive disposition and is effective at blocking in space to create in the run game. The blocking specialist is a mauler in the trenches and helped pave the way for Rachaad White to eclipse the 1,000-yard marker from scrimmage in 2023 (10 yards shy of 1,000 yards rushing). Payne Durham, Tampa Bay's fifth-round draft pick in April, played 150 snaps during his rookie campaign. Durham nabbed 58 yards on five receptions for an average of 11.6 yards per reception. He became a bigger-bodied target over the middle of the field for Baker Mayfield and made tough, contested catches. Durham is adept at catching and breaking through tackles, along with blocking in-line. David Wells, who spent the majority of the year on the team's practice squad, played 43 snaps in 2023. Tanner Taula did not play a single snap for Tampa Bay this year.

2024 Outlook: The Bucs currently have all of their tight ends under contract for 2024 with Otton, Kieft and Durham. Otton and Kieft signed their four-year rookie contracts in the spring of 2022 and Durham officially inked his four-year rookie deal with the club in June. The Bucs achieve continuity at the position for 2024 and the offense will undoubtedly feature Otton in a significant pass-catching role down the stretch for the upcoming year.

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