INDIANAPOLIS — T.Y. Hilton's consistency has been a huge reason why he has established himself as one of the top wide receivers in the National Football League since becoming the Indianapolis Colts' third-round selection in the 2012 NFL Draft.
Hilton so far has amassed 5,861 career receiving yards, a number that ranks him ninth in NFL history over the first five years of a career. He's currently outpacing current Colts Hall of Famer Marvin Harrison (5,554 receiving yards through five seasons) and future Hall of Famer Reggie Wayne (4,164) in that category, and very few others' names — Jerry Rice and Randy Moss among them — were able to start their careers even better than this Florida International product.
Hilton has racked up the yards in a variety of ways; he's got tremendous footwork to get open on short routes, and he has the hands and the concentration to be able to haul in some tough catches in the more intermediate areas.
But in 2016, Hilton took advantage of the deep ball, especially, to lead the NFL with a career-best 1,448 receiving yards.
In fact, according to Pro Football Focus, Hilton was the top deep threat in the entire league last season, as his 51.5 percent deep pass catch rate — numbers based on targets of 20 yards or more — was No. 1 over the likes of A.J. Green and DeSean Jackson (50 percent), Brandin Cooks (45.8 percent) and Rishard Matthews (44.0 percent):
Hilton also played a huge role in the success of quarterback Andrew Luck, who enjoyed a highly-successful comeback effort in 2016 after injuries forced him onto the sidelines for a good chunk of the previous season. According to PFF, Luck in 2016 completed "39 passes of 20-plus air yards (tied for the most in the league) and (threw) 11 touchdowns to just four picks on those shots. His adjusted completion percentage on those deep shots was 54.1 percent, the fourth best mark in the league."
The PFF Analysis Team dove even deeper into the numbers when looking at the Luck-to-Hilton connection deep down the field last season:
• Colts WR T.Y. Hilton recorded the most catches of more than 20 yards downfield in the NFL (17) last season.
• Indianapolis QB Andrew Luck tied Washington QB Kirk Cousins for the most completions on throws more than 20 yards downfield (39).
• Luck's NFL QB rating was no lower than 92.0 when throwing to Hilton anywhere on the field beyond 20 yards.
• Only 68 of Hilton's 528 deep receiving yards came after the catch.
• Hilton and Luck will be the top returning QB/WR teammates in deep-passing yards next season, with 1,689 combined yards.
If the Colts' offensive line can continue improving at keeping Luck's jersey clean each and every week, expect this trend to continue — and perhaps get even better — in 2017.
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