INDIANAPOLIS – Ryan Grigson made a very calculated move on draft day in 2012 by relinquishing a future draft pick for the chance to move up and select T.Y. Hilton.
Grigson pulled a number of smart levers in his rookie season as Colts general manager, and nabbing the speedy Hilton in the third round was a shrewd move that paid instant dividends.
Hilton, selected 92nd overall, was the 13th receiver taken in the draft. Those taken ahead of him included Justin Blackmon (fifth overall), Michael Floyd (13th), Kendall Wright (20th) and A.J. Jenkins (30th), all in the first round.
While Blackmon topped NFL rookies in receptions and yards (64, 865), Hilton (50, 861) ranked among reception leaders and was second in yardage.
Hilton (11.5) topped all rookies and ranked eighth in the NFL in punt return average.
As Hilton prepares for year two, the only thing missing is complacency.
"I'm very eager to (work). It's important to get better," said Hilton. "To stay the same would be ridiculous. I'm always looking for ways in my game to get better."
It took Hilton only two games to have his first 100-yard effort last season. Before the year ended, he had five such outings to break the 23-year old franchise rookie record of Andre Rison (a first-round pick).
Hilton had receptions in 14 outings, including a reception of at least 23 yards in nine different games. Of the team's 63 receptions topping 20 yards, Hilton had 13 of those plays to rank second on the team.
Top 13 Wide Receivers Taken in 2012 Draft
Hilton (30-of-50) was one of 47 players with at least 50 receptions last season who had 60-plus percent of them account for first downs.
He was one of 24 players to produce a reception of 70-plus yards, while standing as one of 12 with 11 or more receptions of at least 25 yards.
Hilton's potency was on full display as his yards after the catch (393) nearly matched his yards upon reception (468), according to one statistical service.
Grigson praised Hilton early in the off-season for being aggressive in picking up tips from the coaching staff while going through his rookie year. Grigson was impressed with the inquisitive nature of the budding player, while Hilton probed other reference materials.
"It was very beneficial to go to Reggie (Wayne)," said Hilton. "Any time you have a vet like him, someone who has played the game like that, you ask him all the questions you've got. Right now, I'm still doing the same thing.
"The great thing about that is you don't have to get in your car to go talk to Reggie. You just go talk to him. I ask him a lot of questions, and he gives me good feedback. It's showing out there on the field. He's always there when you go to him."
Hilton had a 17.2 reception average last year. Only John Mackey (20.7, 1963) and Bill Brooks (17.2, 1986) had better rookie averages for the Colts. Hilton's average ranked fifth in the entire league.
Chief among areas on which Hilton says must improve are passes he says he did not secure.
"I have to work on my drops. I had way too many of them last year. That's not like me," said Hilton. "Every day, I'm catching a lot of balls. I catch them before and after practice. I'm making sure I get my catches. Throughout the week, I make sure I have no drops.
"It's going well for me. I only had one drop in the last month. Right now, it's looking real good. As long as I work on catching the ball, looking it into my hands and work on the fundamentals, I'll be good."