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Giants 90-Man Roster: What Can Rhett Ellison Add To Offense?

Veteran tight end brings an element Giants didn’t have in 2016

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Arizona Cardinals
Rhett Ellison
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Rhett Ellison isn’t a star. Fifty-one receptions and one rushing attempt in a five-year career tell you that. The New York Giants, though, didn’t sign Ellison to a surprising four-year, $18 million contract ($8 million guaranteed) to put up gaudy stats. They signed him because they believe Ellison can help Eli Manning and the rest of the Giants’ play makers put up gaudy numbers.

Let’s take a closer look at the 28-year-old Ellison as we continue our player-by-player profiles of the Giants’ 90-man roster.

2016 Season in Review

Ellison played only 258 offensive snaps, 24.5 percent of the offensive plays, for the Minnesota Vikings last season. In 2015, Ellison had played 551 snaps, and in 2016 he was on the field for 470. He had only nine catches on 14 targets, and carried the ball one time for one yard.

Perhaps the thing that Ellison did best for the Vikings in 2016 was pass block. His Pro Football Focus pass-blocking grade of 70.8 in 41 pass-blocking opportunities was 14th-best among graded tight ends.

2017 Season Outlook

Ellison considers himself a jack-of-all-trades who can line up in multiple spots, including lead-blocking out of the backfield.

“I guess you can say h-back because it kind of puts tight end and fullback all in one thing. A little bit of everything, fullback, tight end, getting split out, whatever it is,” Ellison said during an introductory conference call after signing with the Giants. “It’s just knowing the concept and how you fit in it. I don’t really look at the position, it’s just I’m a moving piece kind of thing.”

The graphic above from Pro Football Focus, though, shows that Ellison is really a traditional inline tight end. A blocking one. That is something the Giants didn’t have a year ago after Will Johnson was placed on IR, and should benefit from in 2017.

Ellison could play a role in both helping the Giants’ offensive tackles on the edges and in occasionally lining up in the backfield and lead-blocking for Paul Perkins and the other Giants backs.

With first-round pick Evan Engram likely to handle receiving duties and spend little time inline, second-year man Jerell Adams developing and last year’s starter, Will Tye, still on the roster Ellison could be a pivotal part of a much-improved group of tight ends.