Last week, the NFL announced Tyreek Hill would not be suspended following an investigation amid child abuse allegations. Before the Chiefs activated him for team activities, Hill had posted countless videos of workouts. He looks to be in the best shape of his career. Also, there is extra motivation the Chiefs top receiver is playing with as well.
Hill’s return will no doubt benefit the Chiefs. But how will this impact rookie Mecole Hardman?
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The Chiefs traded up in the 2nd Round of this year’s NFL Draft to select Hardman out of Georgia. This was on the heels of Hill receiving a suspension from the team, barring him from team activities at the time. Hill’s status looked very murky then. So naturally, many thought Kansas City had drafted Hardman as Hill’s replacement. Despite a similar skillset in speed and versatility as both a receiver and a returner, the Chiefs thought of Hardman as more than just a replacement.
In a pre-draft video, offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy mentioned how someone reminded of Chad Johnson. The player receiving this high praise wound up being Hardman. His inception into the KC offense helps the Chiefs rather than not. Even with Hill not missing any time though, there’s reason to believe Hardman will benefit just as much.
Why Mecole Hardman Will Benefit
First off, Hardman has less pressure to learn all three receiver spots right off the bat. He was likely to get plenty of touches early if Hill were to receive a suspension. In the end, Hardman can come in and most likely get added work at all three spots. Andy Reid now has the freedom to use this new toy in the offense in a wider array of ways. His development may not be as hard pressed right away, and Hardman can focus on doing what he does best.
Next, we take a look at Hardman’s ability to stretch the field. Defenses will be less keen to key in on Hardman and lock him down, with Hill on the field. With having more to worry about on the defensive side, open plays likely have a bigger chance to open up.
Additionally there’s the offensive creativity of Coach Reid. His play designs don’t just open up big chances all over the field. Reid simply realizes his player’s skillsets and puts them in the position most likely to capitalize on that.
Finally, Hardman will benefit from having Patrick Mahomes throwing him the rock. Mahomes had the best season of any Chiefs quarterback in history last year. Part of that was due to Mahomes ability to spread the ball around last year. For example, twelve different players caught a touchdown pass from Mahomes last year. In his time with the Chiefs, the highest number of different receivers to haul in a touchdown pass with Alex Smith in a single season was eight. Those results show the difference in Mahomes taking what is there, and only taking shots when he needs to. But, his game was a lot harder to defend last season than any season of Smith’s.
Consequently, the Chiefs have always thought of Mecole Hardman as more than just replacement level. They’re expecting him to be a focal part of the offense, while developing at the appropriate time.
– Braden Holecek is the Kansas City Chiefs managing editor for Full Press Coverage. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on Follow @ebearcat9//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js Follow @FPC_Chiefs//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js and Facebook.