INDIANAPOLIS — Legendary Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne knows a thing or two about playing the wide receiver position, so when the now-NFL.com analyst recently put out his list of the NFL’s top 10 receivers it should be noted that T.Y. Hilton made the ranking at No. 10.
Wayne and Hilton were teammates from 2012-14, Hilton's first three seasons in the NFL. Hilton came into the league as a little-known big-play threat out of Florida International, but he quickly developed into a well-rounded receiver, capable of running crisp routes and using his mechanics to get open. Hilton has credited Wayne with helping him develop and making the transition to the NFL easier, and now Wayne is even continuing that role as a volunteer wide receivers coach with the Colts.
On his list, Wayne had the following to say about Hilton:
"A four-time Pro Bowl selectee, Hilton's been a constant bright spot in Indy's struggling offense without Andrew Luck. If (or, as I like to think, when) Luck returns from his shoulder injury, the deep threat will get right back to putting up 100-yard games on a consistent basis."
Hilton's credentials speak for themselves. He led the entire NFL in receiving yards in 2016 (1,448), but that wasn't just a flash in the pan. He has the overall body of work to back it up, earning the four Pro-Bowl nods that Wayne mentioned. Arguably Hilton's most endearing trait is his reliability and availability, missing just two games in his six seasons and none since 2014. And it's not like he hasn't played through nagging injuries.
Hilton has accomplished all these things while missing quarterback Andrew Luck for 26 games since 2015, including the entire 2017 season. When Hilton has Luck under center, the pair turn it up a notch. In fact, the duo has the fourth-highest passer rating (129.4) on throws of 20-plus yards that Pro Football Focus has recorded in their history (2006-present).
Overall, Hilton has been a big-play machine, averaging 15.8 yards per catch for his career and averaging 17.7 catches of 20-plus yards per season.
In seasons in which Luck has been Hilton's primary quarterback, Hilton's receiving yards, receiving yards per game, receptions of 20-plus yards and first downs have increased each season. You could consider receptions in there as well, but Hilton had 82 each in 2013 and 2014.
At times, the Colts' offense has struggled when defenses focus much of their attention on stopping Hilton, especially with Luck out of the lineup. However, last week Luck vowed to be ready for the season opener which should continue to establish the duo's notoriety around the league.
Hilton brought up the rear of Wayne's Top 10 list, while Antonio Brown of the Pittsburgh Steelers (No. 1), Julio Jones of the Atlanta Falcons (2) and Odell Beckham Jr. of the New York Giants (3) were the top selections.