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T.Y. Hilton makes NFLPA’s “2017 Rising 50” list

NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars at Indianapolis Colts Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL Players Association each year puts out a list of the top 50 rising stars in the league as a way to identify those players who look poised to become the next top-sellers of NFL merchandise.

This year, Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton is number 19 on that list.

The NFLPA writes that this ranking “was developed by evaluating on-field performances during the 2016 season, fantasy football popularity, early demand from NFLPA sponsors and licensees, as well as new faces in strong markets. To be considered for inclusion, players must not have appeared in any previous quarterly or year-end list of the NFLPA Top 50 Player Sales.”

So this very much has a lot to do with Hilton’s rising popularity and marketability, not so much with his performance on the field - though, granted, his performance on the field directly leads into his popularity in many ways, such as fantasy football. So it seems that the NFLPA tries to list those players who combine both production on-the-field and marketability off-the-field to identify those players who seem to be the up-and-comers in merchandising.

Hilton certainly seems worthy of being in this discussion. He has undeniably produced in a big way on the field in his five seasons with the Colts, making three Pro Bowls and in 2016 leading the NFL in receiving yards. His rapport with quarterback Andrew Luck, who already is a very popular and marketable player, certainly helps too. And in Indianapolis Hilton has become quite popular and has become embraced by his nickname, “The Ghost.”

If he continues to produce at the level we’ve seen in his first five seasons, we should undoubtedly see T.Y. Hilton merchandise becoming more and more popular. In Indianapolis, it already is.