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Giants 90-Man Roster: Will Tye Facing Fight To Keep His Job

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Could last season’s starting tight end be odd man out?

NFL: New York Giants at Pittsburgh Steelers
Will Tye runs after a catch against Pittsburgh last season.
Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

Tight end Will Tye was third on the New York Giants in receptions last season with 48. Yet, as we enter the 2017 NFL season, the 25-year-old finds not only his starting job, but perhaps even his roster spot, under assault.

Let’s take a closer look at the 6-foot-2, 262-pound Tye as we continue our player-by-player profiles of the Giants’ 90-man roster.

2016 Season In Review

In his first truly full NFL season, the former Stony Brook star caught 48 passes. His impact, though, clearly wasn’t what the Giants were hoping for after a promising rookie season.

Tye’s yards per catch dropped from 11.0 in 2015 to 8.2 last season. His yards receiving per game dropped from 35.7 to 24.7. He caught only one touchdown pass, not nearly enough from a team’s primary pass-catching tight end.

Football Outsiders ranked Tye 41st among 46 tight ends who had at least 25 passes thrown to them in 2016 using a stat called DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average). Per that measure, Tye was 22.3 percentage points below league average in production on balls thrown to him. FO also used a stat called DYAR (Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement) that had Tye 40th. That stat had him 68 yards below replacement level on his 48 receptions.

Tye’s blocking was also insufficient. Pro Football Focus listed Tye 61st out of 63 qualifying tight ends in run-blocking, with a score of 33.7.

2017 Season Outlook

The Giants made it obvious with their offseason acquisitions of free-agent Rhett Ellison and first-round pick Evan Engram that getting better tight end production was a priority.

Per NFL Savant, only 3.49 percent of the Giants’ passing plays (22) went to the deep middle of the field last season. Only seven turned into completions. That’s an area where teams usually look to their tight ends.

“The fastest way to the end zone is down the middle of the field,” coach Ben McAdoo said after the Giants drafted the 6-foot-3 Engram, who has 4.42 speed and 33.5-inch arms, putting him in the 63rd percentile amongst tight ends. “Anytime you can add someone to your offense that can run down the middle of the field with that type of speed and length, it stresses the defense.”

Inadequate blocking from the tight end spot was also part of the reason the Giants’ running game often sputtered last season. Ellison, who PFF says has been used as a blocker on 73.5 percent of his career snaps, is a Giant for that reason.

The presence of those two likely means a decrease in playing time for Tye, who was on the field for 681 snaps (64.12 percent) last season. The development of second-year man Jerell Adams, who does have practice squad eligibility, and the health of Matt LaCosse, once again impressive in the spring, could leave Tye fighting for a spot on the 53-man roster.