Name: Mecole Hardman
Position: Wide Receiver
Pro Team: Kansas City Chiefs
College Team: Georgia
Draft Status: Round two, 56th overall
- Height: 5’10”
- Weight: 187 pounds
- Arms: 30 ¼”
- Hands: 9”
- 40-Yard Dash: 4.33
- Bench press: 17
- Vertical Jump: 36.50”
- Broad Jump: 119.0”
- 3-Cone Drill: 6.75 seconds
- 20-Yard Shuttle: 4.25 seconds
- Speed and quickness
- Explosive athlete
- Special teams contributions
- Tough to bring down in the open field due to explosiveness and aggressive running style
- Limited experience as a receiver
- Raw route-runner
- Struggles in contested catch situations which require him to be physical and use his body
Georgia spread the ball around in the passing game and relied heavily on their running game. With Nick Chubb, Sony Michel, D’Andre Swift and Elijah Holyfield, who wouldn’t? These tendencies kept Hardman’s statistics low and out of the spotlight. That all changed when the Chiefs moved up five spots in the second round to select him. While he was not on many people’s radars for rookie drafts prior to the NFL draft, he landed in one of the best situations of all the rookie wide receivers.
Hardman has a great opportunity to see targets as early as his first season. Travis Kelce, Sammy Watkins, and Tyreek Hill will still be the big three targets for Patrick Mahomes when healthy, but Hill could very easily miss significant time. If that were to happen, Demarcus Robinson, Hardman, and a few others will battle for a significant role in one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL.
Even if Hill were to miss time, Watkins and Kelce figure to see plenty of targets when healthy. It is not likely Hardman becomes Mahomes’ go-to guy anytime soon, but he could still carve out a significant role. Just do not go penciling him in for anywhere near the numbers Tyreek Hill has put up over the last few years.
Another threat looms about one year from now. Being a devy player, I always have an eye on the incoming draft classes. Next year’s class of wide receivers has some elite prospects, so the Chiefs might elect to select another one then. As a result, I believe it is imperative Hardman starts off his career strong, which might be hard to do since he is raw at the position. If he does not, the Chiefs could very well double dip at the position again next year.
What happens to Tyreek Hill will likely shape any short-term expectations for Hardman. If Hill stays on the Chiefs and plays this season, it will be tough for Hardman to find significant targets. If Hill is suspended or released by Kansas City, Hardman’s short-term outlook will dramatically improve as the Chiefs would be looking for a third target behind Kelce and Watkins (no offense Demarcus Robinson).
The uncertainty around Hill’s status leaves a wide range of outcomes for Hardman’s long-term outlook. If he can develop into the player the Chiefs envisioned when they drafted him in the second round, the Chiefs might elect to not re-sign Hill to a new contract (presuming they have not released or traded him by then). If he struggles to adapt to the NFL level of play, Hardman might stay in a complementary role like Robinson and Chris Conley did the past couple of years. He must develop his game quickly to seize the opportunity presented.
NFL PLAYER COMPARISON
It seems like a “cop out,” but the way he uses his speed and explosiveness to win in space reminds me of Tyreek Hill. First, let me set the record straight. Tyreek Hill is an outlier and comparing someone to him is usually silly. While Hardman is fast, Hill might still be on another level. That being said, he excels on special teams and in the open field much like Hill.
The way he wins in space and uses his speed to get behind defenders also reminds me of TY Hilton.
Make no mistake, Hill and Hilton are probably close to Hardman’s ceiling as a professional, but the comparison helps demonstrate the type of upside he has. Both Hilton and Hill have more refined route-running than the rookie. They are two of the most difficult receivers to cover when at the top of their respective games. Hardman has a long way to go to reach their levels. I am not saying he is likely to be as good as Hilton and Hill, but his style of play is similar.
PROJECTED ROOKIE DRAFT RANGE
According to our May Rookie ADP, Hardman is now an early to mid-second round player with an ADP of 15.10. The NFL draft certainly helped his dynasty stock as his ADP back in April was all the way down at 42.60. Players who rise this quickly after an event like the NFL draft are often risky investments.
After reviewing his profile and combining it with the opportunities he might have, Hardman is a classic boom-or-bust prospect. Landing on one of the best offenses in the NFL who could lose their top wide receiver gives him the opportunity to explode onto the scene and outproduce his rookie draft slot. The lack of production and rawness to his game also open up the range of outcomes to being a rookie draft bust. With the news surrounding Hill, it is somewhat difficult to predict what is in store for Hardman. Some owners will be ready to select him as early as the late first or early second round while risk-averse owners will likely target other players in this range.
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