Analysis Opinion

Stat suggests Mecole Hardman may be top “clutch” target for Chiefs

Mecole Hardman had a tough gig this last season. He was drafted with the 56thoverall pick (2ndround), and thrust immediately into one of, if not the, most talent laden receiver rooms in the NFL. Between Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, and even veteran Demarcus Robinson, the Chiefs were absolutely stacked at the position, without even mentioning the top receiving TE talent the Chiefs possess in Travis Kelce. High expectations were immediately thrust upon the 2ndround pick, with many pegging him to replace Tyreek (who was dealing with child abuse claims and a looming suspension at the time). That is a ton of pressure for a rookie receiver, but Hardman seems to relish occasions that are pressure laden it seems. Just look at his 48 yard touchdown catch he had against the Patriots, in Foxboro no less, running away from both Patriot defenders. Or look at his 78 yard TD against the Ravens, sealing that game for a Chiefs victory and making Earl Thomas eat his words from earlier that week about preventing big plays from the Chiefs offense. The kid certainly doesn’t shy away from the big moments, that is for certain. This was never more apparent than in the biggest game of the season (and probably young Hardman’s life), the Super Bowl. His skills as a returner were on display then, as he busted a huge return to give the Chiefs momentum they needed to turn the game, and the season at that point, around.

With all of these big time game breaking plays, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Hardman led the LEAGUE in passer rating when targeted for all wide receivers, with a PR of 153.9. The next closest was Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, with a PR of 134.4. That is almost 19 points below Hardman, with the rest falling in with scores in the 120 range aside from Adam Thielen who came in with a 131.9. This just shows how clutch Hardman was for the Chiefs this year. Whenever Pat was looking for a big play or a quick endzone strike, Hardman usually wasn’t far off. Mecole wasn’t even picked for the Pro-Bowl for his receiving this year, but for his return skills, which also helped turn more than one game around. The fact of the matter is that Hardman has elite speed, hands, and a knack for when the game is getting tough, to get the ball in his hands and make it count. I look forward to seeing what he can do with more reliable playing time and Andy Reid scheming plays for him in the upcoming season. Can you imagine what the Chiefs will do with the ball in Patrick Mahomes’ hands and the combined speed of Hill and Hardman on the field?? Defenses can only double team so many players. This combination is going to be absolutely lethal, and I am absolutely ready for it!

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