This past Sunday against the New York Jets, Mecole Hardman showed flashes of brilliance. He stepped up in the absence of Sammy Watkins, and this is only a precursor for what he will do next year.
Next year, Mecole Hardman is going to be a major threat for the Chiefs. This year he is still developing his skills, but he is starting to show flashes that should make all of Chiefs Kingdom excited for what the future holds.
There has been a growing narrative that Hardman is somewhat of a gadget player and that the Chiefs only brought him to KC to use as a situational type player. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the reason that the Chiefs keep utilizing Hardman in different roles, like a slot guy, and sometimes a guy they bring in motion is, one because his open-field speed is ridiculous, and it is where he currently fits in the Chiefs offense.
Playing with a good player like Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, and Sammy Watkins can also have an effect on his targets early on, as well as having Demarcus Robinson, who the Chiefs are very familiar with on the roster. All of these players have an impact on the number of targets or time Hardman gets, so why not put him in as a situational weapon when need be.
Next year Watkins and Robinson will be gone, he will easily step into the third target role and combo well with Hill and Kelce, but till then we should expect to see him still getting targets, especially after his performance against the Jets this past week.
Hardman had his best game ever catching passes for the Chiefs, racking up 96 yards off of seven catches and even scoring one touchdown off a flip pass from Mahomes for the games opening score.
This is when having a player like Hardman, with his speed, is a good thing and they were able to find a way to get his speed to help them make a play. They don’t even block the play side DE, knowing that Hardman is faster, and can get upfield before the defender can even react.
Hardman has made plays like that look regular so far this season, but it is the untraditional approach that has lead to some calling him a “gadget player”, or just a guy who they bring in on trick plays and untraditional looks. But this week he showed he was much more than that.
As the game progressed he made plays across the field, and Chiefs fans should get used to it because we will be seeing more of this very soon.
Hardman is just getting started, when the Chiefs core receivers outside of Hill leave after this season he will be in a prime position to take a big role for the Chiefs. His speed is lethal, his route running is ever-improving, and more importantly, Patrick Mahomes is becoming more comfortable with him as a go to target.
As we see Hardman start to be used more and more for traditional reps, I believe that it is improving the confidence Mahomes has in going to him. When he runs the hitch route that we saw multiple times this past week, he is only one missed tackle away from scoring, but at the same time teams have to respect his speed and MUST give him some cushion when guarding him.
Hardman is going to be another weapon this season for Patrick Mahomes, but next year we will see more of this, and watch as he develops into the player Brett Veach drafted him to be.