After parting ways with former Bulldog receiver Chris Conley during the off-season, the Kansas City Chiefs have decided to come back to Athens for yet another downfield threat at the receiver position.
Kansas City made Mecole Hardman the 56th pick in the second round. It’s an excellent fit for Hardman, who will have the chance to team with Pat Mahomes, easily one of the hottest young quarterbacks in the league.
In Hardman the Chiefs get a receiver who has not yet tapped his full potential. He was a quarterback in high school, flirted briefly with the cornerback position when he arrived at Georgia, and only in 2018 had the benefit of a full off-season committed to his current position. He made the most of it by emerging is Georgia’s second leading receiver, snagging 34 catches for 532 yards and 7 touchdowns. Hardman also emerged as a threat in the kicking game, recognized as the first team All-SEC kick returner by ESPN and second-team by SI.com. He was also a second team all-SEC selection by league coaches.
At 5’11, 182 pounds Hardman isn’t likely to see duty as a downfield jump ball specialist. He’s not getting any taller, and doesn’t have the frame to hold 210 pounds. He does however have good hands, and showcased improved route running skills in 2018. Hardman’s acceleration and change of direction are world class, and the Chiefs may end up much as Jim Chaney did trying to find ways to get the ball in his hands.
Hardman also has the intangibles to succeed. One example from personal experience stands out to me. Hardman was a guest on Dawg Sports’ Committed to the G podcast during the summer before his senior season at Elbert County. At the time cohost Murf Baldwin and I both had Hardman near the top of our list of prospects in the state, but some national analysts were not entirely sold on him due to his size, and the need to change positions at the college level.
We booked Hardman to do an interview on the show when we taped the Sunday following the Mark Richt prospect camp in Athens. Those who follow recruiting may know that Hardman really blew up on that Saturday, taking reps at corner against some really talented players and absolutely shutting them down. He was not only the fastest player on the field, he was physical and sought out one-on-one battles. When we talk about players coming to campus ready to compete, Hardeman epitomized it.
Hardman was gracious when we spoke with him, but conceded early but he was pretty tired from the prior day. Nevertheless he gave a couple of thoughtful answers. Then, when one of the cohosts (spoiler, it was me) launched into a lengthy question.... it was met with silence. Then the silence continued. Finally, Hardman came back on the line. He was so tired he had dozed off with the phone to his ear.
If Chiefs fans want a guy who will lay it on the field until he doesn’t have anymore to give, they got their man. I have no doubt that Mecole Hardman will do the work necessary to hone his craft and become an effective NFL receiver, and could contribute very early in the kicking game.
Hardman is also the first UGA receiver off the board, but with Riley Ridley and Terry Godwin also likely draft picks, it’s no stretch to say that this draft may significantly help UGA receivers coach Cortez Hankton on the recruiting trail. There are not a lot of position coaches he can say they put three of their charges in the NFL draft in one season. With the Bulldogs in on several elite national recruits at the position for the 2020 and 2021 cycles, this won’t go unnoticed, or unpromoted by the UGA staff. Until later...