Let's get one thing straight right from the start: while wide receiver T.Y. Hilton makes it into our top five most important Colts for the 2015 season, there's only one reason why he's not even higher on the list. That reason is the depth at the wide receiver position, which makes Hilton ever so slightly less crucial to the team's success this year.
Of course, he is such a good player and a game-changer that, regardless of the depth, he's incredibly important to have around. Through his first three years in the league, Hilton has amassed 214 receptions for 3,289 yards and 19 touchdowns, averaging 15.4 yards per catch. In 2014, Hilton caught 82 passes for 1,345 yards and seven touchdowns (averaging 16.4 yards per catch) en route to his first Pro Bowl. For much of the past two seasons, Hilton has been the only consistent and reliable receiving threat for the Colts at the position - over the past two years, Hilton has racked up 48 more catches and 1,041 more yards than any other Colt, while also being tied for the team lead in touchdowns in that span. As you can see, not only has Hilton emerged as one of the top receivers in football, he has also helped to carry the Colts' passing offense.
That is unlikely to be the case in 2015. The Colts signed veteran Andre Johnson to be their number two wideout, and then they have second-year pro Donte Moncrief returning and first round draft pick Phillip Dorsett added to the mix, as well as Duron Carter, a much-hyped CFL signing - and that's in addition to the receiving threats that tight ends Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen provide, along with running back Frank Gore. Put simply, the Colts' 2015 offense appears loaded with skill players, and so while T.Y. Hilton should be as good as ever, he should be a bit less crucial to the offense and shouldn't have to carry them nearly as much as he has in recent years.
That's the only reason why Hilton is at number five on our list. If we were to compile a list of simply the Colts' best players, Hilton would be higher. He's emerged as a legitimate star receiver for the Colts and is Andrew Luck's favorite target. But the depth behind him at the wide receiver position results in him being ranked number five. That's no shame, however, and he will still be an integral part of the Colts' success in 2015 - if they hope to reach the Super Bowl, they'll need Hilton to have another good season. Rather than hurting him on the field, hopefully having a number of other players alongside him to take attention away from defenses can actually help Hilton. And then after the season, he'll be a free agent, but he's absolutely deserving of another contract and deserves to be back. But that's all in the future (well, unless they decide to get it done this year), as right now we're focusing simply on this season. And this season, in 2015, T.Y. Hilton will absolutely be among the most important Colts regardless of the depth behind him.
Past rankings on this list: 3rd (2014), 11th (2013)
Check out our list counting down the 15 most important players to the Colts' success in 2015:
15. Jerrell Freeman, ILB
14. Greg Toler, CB
7. Mike Adams, S
5. T.Y. Hilton, WR