Hilton led the NFL in receiving last year, thanks to 155 targets and a healthy Andrew Luck. But this was no Mike Evans-esque volume-driven compilation -- Hilton averaged 15.9 YPC (4th) and 9.3 YPT (6th). And while Hilton had only two catches of 40-plus yards, he led the NFL with 28 of 20 yards or more. At 5-9, 180, Hilton is small, slight and not especially physical, but he has 4.34 40 speed, might be quicker than he is fast and has excellent hands. Given his small frame, Hilton isn't much of a red-zone threat -- only 14 targets there all year, so his touchdowns will usually have to come from long distance. In fact, only two of his six scores came from inside the red zone, so double-digit TDs are unlikely. Not much should change in 2017 -- Luck is expected to be healthy after offseason shoulder surgery, Donte Moncrief will continue -- along with tight end Jack Doyle -- to be the team's complementary and red-zone options, and scrubby third and fourth receivers will vie for targets and roles behind them. None of this should affect Hilton who remains one of the league's top bets for catches and yardage as Luck's unquestioned No. 1 WR.
It's hard to read much into Hilton's 2015 season given so little of it was played with a healthy Andrew Luck. Hilton is your prototypical deep threat — think poor man's DeSean Jackson only with more targets and a better quarterback. At 5-9, 180, Hilton's not a threat for double-digit touchdowns because he rarely sees targets in the red zone (last year he saw a career-high 16, but averaged only 10 the previous three seasons) and lacks the frame to catch passes in traffic. Where Hilton excels is down the field — even with 40-year-old Matt Hasselbeck throwing the passes, Hilton caught six for 40-plus yards (T-6th) on 134 targets (13th). This isn't surprising given his blazing 4.37 40 speed and elusiveness in the open field. With Luck's return to health, Hilton should resume his role as one of the top targets in the offense, though Donte Moncrief and Dwayne Allen are likely to see most of the red-zone work, and last year's first-round pick Phillip Dorsett should merit a bigger role, including some looks down the field. But at 26, Hilton is still in his prime and should be a reliable source of yards and big plays.
There were a lot of mouths to feed in the Colts offense last year, but if anyone left fat and happy it was Hilton. He emerged as one of the league's top big-play wideouts with 21 catches of 20-plus yards (T-6th) and six catches of 40-plus (T-4th). Moreover, he averaged 16.4 YPC and 10.3 YPT, both league-leading marks among 100-target receivers (DeSean Jackson blew both numbers out of the water, but on lower volume). At 5-9, 178, Hilton is about as small as receivers come, but elite quickness and 4.37 40 speed make him one of the league's most explosive and elusive targets. Paired with Andrew Luck in a pass-heavy offense, Hilton's a safe bet to stretch the field and deserves a boost in distance-scoring formats. But Hilton's small stature precludes him from seeing much work near the goal line (only 11 of his 131 targets were from inside the red zone), and newly acquired Andre Johnson and second-year man Donte Moncrief along with the team's two pass-catching tight ends should see most of the work as the field shrinks.
With injuries to Reggie Wayne and tight end Dwayne Allen, Hilton was thrust into a bigger role in Year 2, and the results were mixed. On the one hand, he made five catches of 40 or more yards (T. 10th) and easily led the team in receptions and receiving yards. On the other, he averaged only 7.8 YPT (20th), a low number for a big-play receiver, and scored only five times. The latter issue is likely to persist – the 5-9, 178-pound Hilton saw only 10 of his 138 targets in the red zone and only two of those were from inside the 10. While Hilton’s small, he’s also very fast – he ran a 4.37 40 at the Combine, and he’s also lightning quick in open space. And while his regular season stats were more pedestrian, his playoff ones – 17 catches for 327 yards, two scores and 13.6 YPT over two games – were anything but. Part of the problem was offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton’s over-reliance on the run, something that disappeared when the Colts got down big in both playoff contests. We’d be surprised if Hamilton, who also ran the ball quite a bit at Stanford, changes his stripes, so we might not see Hilton and quarterback Andrew Luck unleashed as much as we’d like. The Colts also signed Hakeem Nicks this offseason, drafted Donte Moncrief in the third round and expect the 35-year old Wayne as well as Allen to be back in training camp.
While Reggie Wayne moved the chains last season, Hilton broke open games.
Despite seeing only 90 targets (T-45th), Hilton had five catches of 40-plus (T-9th). Hilton also averaged 17.2 YPC (4th among the league’s 46 90-target WR) and 9.6 YPT (6th).
At 5-10, 183, Hilton's never going to be a red-zone factor – only nine of his targets were in that area and only two inside the 10 – but his blazing speed and excellent lateral quickness make him a threat to strike from deep.
The Colts brought in fellow speedster Darrius Heyward-Bey, and it remains to be seen which of the two will wind up starting alongside Wayne. Chances are it won't matter that much as the Colts run plenty of three-WR sets, and quarterback Andrew Luck is likely to attempt north of 600 passes.
Hilton’s only 5-10, 183, but he ran a mid-4.3 second 40 at the Florida International pro day in March, and the Colts took him in the third round as a result. Hilton’s also got good hands and is quick and elusive in the open field. Reggie Wayne and Austin Collie project as the Colts’ starters, but the former is slowing down and the latter has a history of concussions. Even if both stay healthy. Hilton has a chance to be the team’s slot man, primary kick returner and occasional field stretcher. Hilton himself had been injury prone in college and it’s worth noting that at press time he was already limited in camp due to a hamstring injury.