4. Mecole Hardman
Hardman stepped up in the early part of his rookie season when Tyreek Hill went down with an injury in Week 1. Head coach Andy Reid tasked Hardman with learning the offense from every alignment and building a better understanding of defensive coverages from each alignment. It’s typical for receivers to take time to learn Reid’s complicated offense.
Between Hill and Sammy Watkins both missing games in the first half of the season, Hardman saw considerable playing time. His snap counts came down in the second half of the season when both were healthy, but he was still contributing regularly.
Learning the offense from each alignment allowed Hardman to understand not only his responsibilities but knowing how other routes were affected by him and vice versa. As the season went along, it was clear that he was developing in that area as he would adjust his routes to gain better leverage against defenders.
During Hardman’s rookie season, he hauled in 26 receptions for 538 yards and 6 touchdowns. He also added a touchdown via kick return. According to Pro Football Focus, Hardman was one of three receivers to catch 6 or more touchdowns from the slot in 2019.
In the playoffs, Hardman wasn’t much of a factor in the offense due to teams taking away the deep portions of the field. However, his kick return against the Houston Texans in the Divisional Round helped spark a momentum shift that saw the Chiefs overcoming a massive deficit. Hardman will likely become more of a consistent weapon in 2020 with some work on his route tree, but he showed during his rookie season that he could be more than just a deep threat.