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T.Y. Hilton Named the Colts ‘Bounce-back Candidate’ for 2020

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Atlanta Falcons v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

According to ESPN’s NFL Nation and Pro Football Focus (subscription), Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton is his team’s bounce-back candidate among representatives named for each of the NFL’s 32 teams:

Indianapolis Colts

T.Y. Hilton, WR

PFF overall grade in 2019: 75.1

What went wrong: Hilton’s 2019 season was reminiscent of his 2017, when he was first required to take the field with Jacoby Brissett and consequently ended the season with the lowest PFF grade outside of his rookie year (68.2). We’ve seen how well Hilton can produce with above-average quarterback play: With Andrew Luck at the helm in 2013-18, Hilton earned a 90.7 overall grade that ranked 11th among 166 qualifiers, while his 3,840 yards on passes thrown at least 10 yards downfield ranked 10th. With Brissett and others at the helm in 2017 and 2019, Hilton’s 73.7 receiving grade ranked 38th among 78 qualifiers, while his 864 yards on passes thrown at least 10 yards downfield ranked 33rd. Hilton will now have Philip Rivers throwing him the ball, and while he might not be the same quarterback we once knew, Rivers’ accuracy is still in good shape. It seems likely we will see the 30-year-old veteran get back to form with Rivers in town. — PFF

Outlook for 2020: It’s not that Hilton had a disappointing season in terms of production in 2019. It was simply a matter of Hilton not being healthy (quad and calf injuries) for the first time in his eight-year NFL career. He played a career-low 10 games last season. The lack of playing time caused Hilton to also have career lows in receptions, yards and yards per catch. The number of games played probably would have been lower but Hilton wanted to play if possible. “I would never quit on my team. I signed up for 16 games. Some guys may shut it down and call it quits. I don’t do that,” he said late in the season. — Mike Wells

While the ‘T.Y. Hilton is injury prone’ narrative is a misguided one, the veteran wide receiver does need to avoid lingering injuries in 2020—which have limited him a bit over the past two seasons with the Colts.

Hilton was recently placed on the active/non-football injury with a hamstring issue, but it’s a mild injury he suffered while training—and he should be fine.

The 30 year old veteran wideout is entering a contract season and is coming off a down year for his normally high standards, catching 45 receptions for 501 receiving yards (11.1 ypr. avg.) and 5 touchdown receptions in 10 starts—having suffered a torn calf.

However, with a little better health, and an upgrade at starting quarterback: Philip Rivers, Hilton could very well have a bounce-back season in 2020.

Rivers has better accuracy than his Colts predecessor, Jacoby Brissett, as well as anticipation—and shows a greater willingness to take chances and throw the ball downfield.

That should definitely benefit Hilton, who could be poised for a strong rebound season.