Over the next few weeks through the start of training camp, I will be unveiling a small series called: Who Would You Rather Have and pit current Colts players against similar NFL counterparts, with a winner chosen for each matchup. While I understand this a Colts website and bias might be involved, I’ll make sure to keep it as objective as possible.
TY Hilton vs. Julian Edelman
Some fans and analysts have been calling Edelman a future Hall of Famer. While he has a few iconic plays in his career, on a week to week and season to season basis, he’s nothing more than a top 15-20 receiver in the NFL. While he is a very different receiver than Hilton, Hilton has shown the ability to be a quality possession receiver when called upon. Edelman has never been a legitimate deep threat in his entire career.
Hilton’s numbers have almost always exceeded Edelman’s. When comparing them against each other the last 5 seasons, Hilton averages more yards per game on less catches, a higher touchdown per season average and far fewer fumbles. Hilton is also 4 years younger than Edelman (29 vs 33), so this debate isn’t really a debate. Edelman is a very good receiver for the Patriots’ offense, but when comparing him against a player like TY, it’s not even much of a contest.
Winner: TY Hilton
TY Hilton vs. Robert Woods
Robert Woods was a breakout star last season after a few seasons as a quality #2. In his previous five seasons as a #2 receiver in a below average offense (in Buffalo) and an above average offense in Los Angeles, Woods never put up more than 65 catches or 781 yards. Woods put up respectable numbers, but his breakout season was a huge step up.
So while Woods’ 2018 season would be considered very good by TY Hilton’s standards, the fact of the matter is that Hilton has been a consistent #1 star receiver for many more seasons and Woods might be two years younger, but most analysts, including myself, would say that Woods has reached his ceiling with an 86 catch, 1219 yard season, whereas TY Hilton might have a bit extra left in the tank. Hilton’s explosiveness is really what separates him from Woods, who is more a possession receiver who relies on route running. Hilton runs very good routes (as good or nearly as good as Woods), has just as good hands (both drop rates under 3.5%), and is a much better deep threat.
When putting matchups together, I thought this would be more interesting, but it’s become clear that Hilton is in a tier above Woods.
Winner: TY Hilton
TY Hilton vs. Juju Smith-Schuster
Juju Smith Schuster is a rising star in the NFL and his career might explode as the #1 receiver in a pass happy offense. Hilton, the #1 in a loaded offense, might see a small bump in his numbers this year, but Smith-Schuster’s offense tends to pass the ball so he should have more targets than Hilton, especially considering the Colts have a better pass catching group than the Steelers do.
The two big things that Smith-Schuster has over Hilton is age and ceiling. While Hilton has been very consistent and one of the top 10 receivers in the NFL over the past 5 years, Smith-Schuster, on the other hand, at 22 years old, was one of the top 5 or 6 receivers in the NFL last year and has the potential to be the best receiver in the NFL in the next 2-3 seasons.
So while Hilton has been consistent over the past few years, Juju has a chance of being the best receiver in the league by the age of 25, something that Hilton can’t reach at this point in his career, so this battle goes to Juju.
Winner: Juju Smith-Schuster