In his rookie season, Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton put up 50 catches for 861 yards and seven touchdowns. In 2013, he followed it up with an even more impressive 82 receptions for 1,083 yards and five touchdowns. Because of his success, many are wondering if he is the Colts’ No. 1 wideout now, especially considering the age of Reggie Wayne.
Now, Hilton might be the most productive receiver on the Colts, but does that make him a true No. 1 in the NFL? To be completely honest, no. It does not.
Before all you Colts fans get enraged, hear me out, and know that I’m not saying Hilton isn’t a very good receiver. He simply isn’t a No. 1.
What makes a No. 1 WR the top guy? He’s someone who can do it all, game in and game out. Even when teams gameplan for him and have their top cover man on him, he still produces. There really aren’t as many players who fit the description in the NFL as you’d think. With as great as the passing games are across the league, there are certainly many very talented receivers. And that’s the category Hilton fits into: a very talented receiver.
Hilton is adept at route-running, is sure-handed and can take the top off a defense. However, it’s arguable he lacks the size to be the guy. He stands just 5-foot-9 and is only about 180 pounds. Not many players at that size can really fit the mold of a No. 1 receiver. The other thing he seems to lack thus far in his career is the ability to get into the end zone with consistency. On 82 receptions, he should be able to score more than five times, that is, if we’re trying to label him as an elite wideout, especially since Wayne was out for quite a bit of last season. Overall, he really just seems to lack the top-notch production to be considered a legitimate No. 1 at this point.
The way I see it, Hilton is sort of in between players like Lance Moore and Antonio Brown. Those two guys are extremely similar in stature to Hilton and have a similar style of play. Hilton isn’t quite as good as Brown, who established himself as a No. 1 with elite production at 110 receptions for 1,499 yards and eight TDs in 2013, but he isn’t simply a solid slot guy like Moore has been throughout his career.
Does this mean Hilton can’t become that type of target? Not necessarily. I would say it’s unlikely he ever reaches that type of status as it’s still rare for someone his size to become a No. 1. However, if Hilton improves to the point where he’s catching around 100 balls a season for at least 1,200 yards and at least 7-8 touchdowns, then he could certainly be in the discussion.
At this time, however, it’s hard to say he’s a true No. 1, and in fact, if back and healthy, Wayne will be the top guy in Indianapolis once again this season — even at the age of 35. For now, Hilton puts up solid numbers and is one of the more reliable weapons at Andrew Luck’s disposal, but shouldn’t be viewed as anything more until he proves otherwise.