T.Y. Hilton has turned into a tremendous receiving threat for the Indianapolis Colts.
He surprised in his rookie year in 2012 with an impressive year, and since then he’s put up four straight 1,000 yard seasons. He’s made three Pro Bowls and, in 2016, led the entire NFL in receiving yards.
He has become a star wideout, and one of the most impressive parts about Hilton’s game is that he is capable of producing in multiple ways. For example, he can win on both deep routes and underneath routes, while he can also win from the outside or in the slot. That versatility makes him very valuable and even more dangerous.
Though he primarily is viewed as an outside receiver, the Colts actually do use him quite a bit in the slot to take advantage of those matchups, and in 2016 only one player in the league had more yards from the slot than Hilton did, according to Pro Football Focus.
Hilton racked up 745 yards from the slot last year, which was actually more than he recorded on the outside (703). So his production out of the slot was a huge part of his league-leading 1,448 yards a year ago, and it helps make it more obvious why the Colts like using Hilton there when they can. It creates very favorable matchups for Hilton, who can use his speed and route-running even more to his advantage against (usually) lesser defensive backs.
He’s also a very good deep receiver, as PFF notes that Hilton had the third-most yards on deep passes (20+ yards in the air) in the NFL last year too.
Of the top 3 WRs in receiving yards on passes 20+ yards in the air in 2016, T.Y. Hilton is the only one returning to the same team in 2017 pic.twitter.com/AKzS7PXkub— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) June 2, 2017
So over 36% of his yards last year came from deep passes, and Hilton actually led the league in 20+ yard receptions with 28.
In short, this just helps tell us what Colts fans already knew: that T.Y. Hilton is a very good and very versatile wide receiver who is able to win matchups and produce in a variety of ways. He’s able to serve as a deep threat but he’s also able to play underneath, just like he’s able to play both on the outside and in the slot. That makes him a very valuable part of Rob Chudzinski’s offense, and considering Hilton’s production in the slot in 2016, I think we can safely say that he’ll probably see a lot of reps there again in 2017 when the situation allows.