James Washington is out. Michael Gallup won’t be back for at least the season opener. CeeDee Lamb is the No. 1, but behind him is a bevy of unproven, very talented, but unproven wide receivers. The Dallas Cowboys need some help in the wide receiver room and there is one free agent out there that can not only contribute on the field but can also show the young group how to become successful.
T.Y. Hilton could plug into the Cowboys offense and contribute both on and off the field. First things first, let’s talk about what he brings to the wide receivers in developmental ways. Hilton came into the NFL in 2012 and would be entering his 11th season. In his previous 10 seasons, he has produced over 1,000 yards five times and has 53 career touchdowns. Both of those tower over any production the Cowboys currently have. Hilton knows how to be successful.
He can instantly come into Dallas and provide veteran leadership to young receivers like Jalen Tolbert, Simi Fehoko, T.J. Vasher, Brandon Smith, Ty Fryfogle, Jaquarii Roberson, and KaVontae Turpin. All of those names have very minimal to no NFL experience as they are young in their careers or rookies. Hilton can show a young group the intricacies of a defense, how to practice, what to look for in film, and so much more. He has seen hundreds of defensive looks and won against them all in his career. The Cowboys could effectively get a “player-coach” here.
Now let’s dive into how Hilton statistically could replace Washington. After doing a deep dive into some statistics and metrics, it may be a slight upgrade when all is said and done. To level-set, I looked at their statistics over the last four seasons, 2018-2021 as that is the most relevant and equal time each played.
Here’s why free agent WR T.Y. Hilton would be a good replacement for Cowboys WR James Washington after injury
Over the last four years, Hilton has 200 catches to Washington’s 114. Hilton has 2,864 yards to Washington’s 1,629. Hilton has 19 touchdowns to Washington’s 11. I understand Washington was behind Juju Smith-Schuster and Chase Claypool in Pittsburgh while Hilton was often to go-to guy in Indianapolis, but the output is staggeringly different.
For some deeper analysis, I looked into their efficiencies. Washington had just 6.5 yards per target whereas Hilton was up at 8.9. Washington averaged 11.9 yards per reception while Hilton averaged 14.4. Washington’s catch rate was 54.5% while Hilton boasted a catch rate of 62.2%. Lastly, Washington’s average separation at the time of the catch was 1.68 yards to Hilton’s 1.78 yards of separation. It is only a separation difference of +4 inches for Hilton, but inches are often the different between catches and a batted pass.
With a big gap at wide receiver, Hilton provides instant experience to a very young receiving group. He can come in to show the Cowboys’ young talent what it takes to become successful as he was third round pick, a bit like the Cowboys’ Jalen Tolbert. Coincidentally enough, the two of them are very similar in height and weight as well.
With training camp underway and other teams likely to have unfortunate injuries amongst their receiving corps, it is only a matter of time before the veteran and his agent start fielding more and more phone calls. Right now, the Dallas should pick that phone up and at least make the call to try and get Hilton on the next flight to Oxnard.