What can we expect from Mecole Hardman in 2020?
While Hardman showed development throughout his rookie season, he still saw little playing time down the stretch. He sparked a momentum shift in the Divisional Round against the Houston Texans on special teams, but only saw 11 offensive snaps. The speedster saw 27 snaps in the AFC Championship, and 22 offensive snaps in the Super Bowl. His playoff production amounted to four receptions for 29 yards.
When Kansas City needed points to climb back into games during the playoffs, Demarcus Robinson saw most of the playing time as the third receiver. Hardman’s snaps came mostly during the beginning of each game. Defenses were taking away the deep portions of the field in an attempt to keep the Chiefs offense in front of them. Reid relied on his veteran receiver over the rookie when the offense needed points, despite Robinson’s several drops against Houston.
As Hardman enters his sophomore season with the Chiefs, it’s fair to expect him to be more involved within the offense. He developed more chemistry with Mahomes as the season went along. Mahomes discussed the development that he had seen from Hardman following the loss to the Tennessee Titans in November when talking about a big play by the rookie adjusting his route.
"“It was a great route by Mecole — a route that he probably wouldn’t have been able to run at the beginning of this year,” Mahomes said. “It shows that he’s progressing and getting better every single week.”"
Reid will likely ask Hardman to run a more extensive route tree in 2020. Learning the offense was the first goal for the young wide receiver, and now it’s time for him to take the next step. He has all of the physical tools to run tight breaking routes, including curls, comebacks, digs, and out routes. Mental development in 2019 will help him maximize his success this season.
Over the offseason, Hardman worked with Footwork King to improve his craft. Receivers coming out of college typically have minimal experience facing press-man coverage. Hardman’s quick-twitch ability give him an advantage, but learning how to perfect his footwork will be crucial to his success. Other improvements include understanding zone coverages and where to sit down between defenders, continue to gain chemistry with Mahomes, and never stop running.
Hardman has excellent potential if he continues to improve his craft, and he’s in the perfect place to maximize that success. With Reid dialing up the plays and Mahomes throwing to him, there’s no limit to what he can do. Improving in all of these areas will find him more playing time with the offense, which is what the Chiefs want to do in 2020.