KANSAS CITY, Mo. — One of the biggest moves for the Kansas City Chiefs this offseason has been the trade of wide receiver Tyreek Hill in exchange for five draft picks to the Miami Dolphins.
Hill’s departure has brought up questions about who will fill his role and provide a similar level of production.
But wide receiver Mecole Hardman said he is ready to step up.
“I think we’re going to have an offense where we are going to ball a lot, run a lot, so I think it’s just making sure we’re prepared for when those targets or whatever come our way,” Hardman said. “And just be the best-prepared as you can and go out there with the mindset of stepping up and trying to fill the role. And just keeping the mindset like that and just be ready.”
Hardman’s speed drew comparisons to Hill when he was drafted out of the University of Georgia in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft.
At the combine, Hardman ran the 40-yard dash in 4.33 seconds, and has since been recorded in the low 4.20 range.
The Jet is also coming off his best statistical year in his short career, catching 59 passes for 693 yards in 2021. He added 8 rushes for 46 yards.
“He’s coming off a good year,” head coach Andy Reid said. “He’s got to continue to grow here over the next couple years here. Mecole has the speed like a Tyreek had, different player, but like what Tyreek had. He gives you a nice skillset there with the speed and quickness and ability to run when the ball is in his hands. He’s a very aggressive runner when the ball is in his hands”
Hardman’s touchdown numbers are the only stat that has decreased since his rookie season, but with the absence of Hill, he and other wide receivers will have the opportunity to be on the receiving end of passes from Mahomes in the endzone.
“We have a nice mixture of speed and size which I think will force defenses to not only play those deep coverages but also come up and play some man too,” Mahomes said. “I think we’ll have a different variety for them where they won’t know exactly where the ball is going every single play, they don’t know where it’s going to because we have so many different guys who can make plays in this offense.”
With the comparisons to Hill and expectations rising, Mahomes said he is excited for Hardman to become his own player.
“He doesn’t have to be Tyreek Hill; he has to be Mecole Hardman, and I think Mecole Hardman can be a great player in this offense. He’s made a Pro Bowl already and I think he can keep getting better and better,” Mahomes said. “Everybody puts out there he’s got to replace Tyreek. I think he can be his own player, a Pro Bowler and a great player in this offense as well.”
Hardman is entering the final year of his rookie contract and will look to take advantage of his increased role in hopes of an extension and a big pay day. Whether it is with the Chiefs or not will be determined down the line.
“Ultimately, I think it’s just another opportunity, like I said, to just be prepared for it and be able to take advantage of and when the opportunity comes, you have to be ready for it,” Hardman said.