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14 for '14 Number 3: Wide Receiver T.Y. Hilton

In the 14 days leading up to the Indianapolis Colts reporting for training camp on July 23, we will count down the 14 most important players to the Colts success in 2014. Today, we look at number 3, wide receiver T.Y. Hilton.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time since 2007, the Colts enter a season without Reggie Wayne as their best wide receiver.  That's not to take anything away from Reggie Wayne, who is simply phenomenal and who appeared on this list at number 11.  It's instead to say that T.Y. Hilton has passed Reggie Wayne as the Colts best and most important wide receiver in 2014.

Hilton caught 82 passes for 1,083 yards and 5 touchdowns in 2013 while playing in every game (starting 10).  After Reggie Wayne's injury Hilton especially stepped up into the role and continued to develop in that role, culminating in his insane performance in the playoffs, where in two games he caught 17 passes for 327 yards and 2 touchdowns.  He built off of a very impressive rookie season in which he caught 50 passes for 861 yards and 7 touchdowns to become an even bigger threat and an even bigger playmaker for the Colts, and that wasn't seen any clearer than in the playoffs.  In the comeback against the Chiefs especially, Hilton caught 13 passes for 224 yards and 2 touchdowns in what was perhaps the single greatest individual receiving performance in postseason history.  Including playoffs, Hilton has played in 34 career games (only missing one, the first game of his rookie season) and has had 12 games with more than 100 yards receiving and four games with two or more receiving touchdowns.  He's a playmaker to the highest degree and even the vaunted Seattle Seahawks secondary couldn't stop him, as Hilton caught 5 passes for 140 yards and 2 touchdowns against them.  He's a huge weapon for Andrew Luck and has continued to develop into a great wide receiver.

The receiver position is one with great depth for the Colts, so because of that there might be questions about Hilton being ranked as high as three on this list of the most important players to the Colts in 2014.  While I do agree that the position has a lot of talent with Hilton, Wayne, Hakeem Nicks,  Donte Moncrief, and others, as well as tight ends Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen, it's clear that Hilton is the best receiving target of that group and has the most playmaking ability.  That's not to discredit the others and the Colts should absolutely have a very good and very deep receiving core in 2014, but Hilton is the headliner and it will be incredibly important that he produce and continue to develop this season.  The Colts have big expectations for the season, and without T.Y. Hilton they won't achieve them - and last season they sure as heck wouldn't have had the same results as they did with Hilton, as if they still made the playoffs they definitely wouldn't have comeback against the Chiefs.  Hilton is a crucial part to the offense and will be Andrew Luck's best and most dangerous weapon in 2014.  That's worth inclusion in the list of the most important Colts in 2014.

Check out our list counting down the 14 most important players to the Colts' success in 2014:

14. Pat McAfee, punter

13. Anthony Castonzo, left tackle

12. Greg Toler, cornerback

11. Reggie Wayne, wide receiver

10. Cory Redding, defensive lineman

9. Dwayne Allen, tight end

8.  Bjoern Werner, outside linebacker

7. Arthur Jones, defensive lineman

6. LaRon Landry, safety

5. Jerrell Freeman, inside linebacker

4. Robert Mathis, outside linebacker

3. T.Y. Hilton, wide receiver