In NFL circles, the Golden Rule of receivers is that they typically take off in the 3rd year of their NFL careers. Coincidentally, the Colts’ T.Y. Hilton is set to enter his 3rd year in the NFL. Hilton has shown enormous promise early in his NFL career, finishing last season with 82 receptions, 1,083 yards, and 5 TD’s. At times, he’s been nothing short of brilliant, as evident by his 13 receptions, 224 yards, and 2 TD’s Wildcard Playoff performance against the Kansas City Chiefs in 2013. Those receptions and yards totals were Colts’ playoff franchise records and was quite an impressive feat.
For a 3rd round pick, #92 to be exact in the 2012 NFL Draft out of Florida International, Hilton hasn’t simply been a hit with the Colts, he’s been a home run for GM Ryan Grigson and the team. He’s flashed elite speed and playmaking ability and has all the makings of a potential elite NFL Wide Receiver.
However, to be a truly elite NFL receiver, i.e. the Calvin Johnson’s and A.J. Green’s of the league, you have to bring it every week. You can’t bring it every, other week. To often than not last season, Hilton had games where he was fairly irrelevant on the box score. He had 9 games of 50 receiving yards or less, and was held without a touchdown in 14 of 16 regular season games.
When it came for Hilton, it came in bursts. His 5 TD’s came in two games (vs. Seattle (2), @Houston (3)). At some point, he’ll have to make the distinguishment from simply being a “big-play” receiver to an elite NFL receiver. He can’t be great once in a blue moon, he has to be consistently great every week if he wants to be truly considered among the league’s best.
Still, it’s easy forget that this is only going to be Hilton’s 3rd NFL season. Both Luck and him have shown so much promise and poise, that’s it’s easy to forget just how young they still are in their NFL careers. Hilton has flashed his immense ability, but he’s also demonstrated some of the growing pains that go along with being a young receiver in the NFL.
To put his young career in perspective, we’ve decided to pair the smaller Hilton (5’9″, 178 lbs) with another diminutive Colts’ all-time great and future Hall of Famer, Marvin Harrison (6’0″, 179 lbs):
As you can see, Hilton stacks up quite favorably and similarly to Marvin Harrison in his first two seasons in the NFL. While he’s short 3 receptions and a touchdown, he has 121 more receiving yards. It’ll be interesting to see if Hilton’s play will eventually progress him into a future Hall of Famer like Harrison, or whether he’ll be more of an “explosive burst” receiver-type like the (now) Redskins’ DeSean Jackson. While Jackson is unlikely a future Hall of Fame receiver at this juncture of his career, he’s still a very good receiver in his own right.
Either way, Hilton projects to be a talented playmaker in the offense for years to come. It’s just the issue of whether he can be an all-time great. Time will tell for Colts’ fans, but it will be interesting to see if 2014 is in fact the year, in which T.Y. Hilton truly takes off.