INDIANAPOLIS— T.Y. Hilton has been one of the fastest-rising receivers in the NFL in recent years, so perhaps it's no surprise that league business officials believe there will be many more blue and white No. 13 jerseys in the stands this season.
The NFL Players Association (NFLPA) on May 5 unveiled its NFLPA 2016 Rising 50 list, which identifies "players best positioned to rank among top-sellers of all officially licensed merchandise and become future retail stars."
Hilton comes in at No. 26 on this year's list, after ranking fifth overall on the inaugural list in 2015.
The Florida International product in 2015 put together his third-straight 1,000-yard receiving yard campaign and earned his second-straight trip to the Pro Bowl, catching 69 passes for 1,124 yards and five touchdowns. For his career, Hilton has 283 catches for 4,413 yards and 24 touchdowns.
With production like that, it's no surprise why Hilton, who is entering his fifth NFL season in 2016, would be considered one of the potential league marketing stars for the year.
According to the NFLPA, to make the "Rising 50" list, a player must star on the field as well as in fantasy leagues and have "early demand from current sponsors and licensees, and new faces in strong markets as factors determining potential future sales popularity."
"We strive to provide partners with a depth of player knowledge they can't get anywhere else," said Steve Scebelo, the NFLPA's vice president of business development and licensing. "And, through resources like the Rising 50 list, we can encourage them to create more products that represent an even wider variety of players who have so many unique characteristics."
Hilton is the only Colts player to appear on this year's list, while the AFC South is also represented by Derrick Henry of the Tennessee Titans, DeAndre Hopkins, Lamar Miller and Brock Osweiler of the Houston Texans and Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns, and Myles Jack of the Jacksonville Jaguars.