In a deep and talented tight end class, San Jose State's Ryan Otten is one of the fastest rising prospects. WalterFootball.com has heard that some teams feel Otten to be a better value than some of the tight ends who are predicted to go earlier. Part of the reason he has flown somewhat under the radar was an illness that kept him under 100 percent at the Senior Bowl and NFL Scouting Combine.
"I was feeling great going into the Senior Bowl and then I got really sick there," said Otten. "I ended up having a staph infection. I was trying to battle through it but I was really sick at home, so I had to be on antibiotics for a few weeks and that hurt my training. I kept battling through it and went to the Combine, but I wasn't 100 percent yet. I just did position drills, but after the Combine, I started to feel closer to 100 percent. I hit it hard for a few weeks and got my weight up over 240 and continued to work out. I'm close to 245 right now. I feel big, strong and fast."
Even though Otten was sick, he played in the Senior Bowl and impressed scouts with his determination. Other players like Oregon's Kyle Long quickly pulled out of practice because being ill, but Otten stayed to compete even though he had a day or two when he couldn't keep food down.
Sources have told WalterFootball.com that there is a long list of teams that have had pre-draft visits, private workouts and formal meeting with Otten. That group includes the Miami Dolphins, Atlanta Falcons, Dallas Cowboys, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Green Bay Packers, Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers, San Diego Chargers, New York Giants, Detroit Lions and Oakland Raiders.
"Yes, I have had some visits," said Otten. "But out of respect for the teams, I'm going to keep private which teams I've worked out for and which teams I've visited. I've had a very busy schedule."
Otten said he's heard he could go as high as the second round. League contacts have indicated they believe that Otten will most likely go in the third round and shouldn't fall lower than a high pick in the fourth round.
The 6-foot-5, 240-pound tight end is one of the top pass receiving tight ends in the 2013 NFL Draft. The senior had 47 receptions for 742 yards and four touchdowns in 2012 with a number of impressive games. He had a strong junior season with 52 receptions for 739 yards and five touchdowns.
Teams like Otten's ability to line up in a variety of places including the slot and h-back responsibilities. As he spends time in an NFL strength and conditioning program, he believes he'll add weight. With his height, teams don't anticipate that being an issue for him.
"I would like to get to 250. Whatever team that drafts me can tell me what weight they would like me at," said Otten.
After spending time with the Oakland Raiders coaching staff in Mobile, Otten received some coaching points for the next level.
"Just to continue to get bigger and stronger to help in the run," said Otten. "Most people aren't too worried about what I can do in the passing game. That's my strength. They want to see me get bigger, stronger and do more blocking."
While Otten is traveling around the country making visits to team facilities, he also is preparing for his rookie season. Otten has some specific goals in mind for the short term and long term.
"My goal is to, first off, get in and make a roster and contribute to winning games," Otten said. "I want to get better each year and eventually be a starter and a guy that contributes to winning. I want to win a championship one day. That is my biggest goal."