Mecole Hardman, Juan Thornhill make 2020 breakout team
By Matt Conner
CBS Sports has put together a 2020 NFL breakout team with a couple Chiefs players.
The difference between a player’s first and second season in the NFL is usually one that allows many to take a major step forward as the game becomes more familiar to them. The game slows down, as they say, allowing a player’s natural skill set and instincts to kick in instead of having to process so much mentally.
Over at CBS Sports, Josh Edwards made out a list of sophomores in the league who are set to break out in a big way in 2020. Some of them have already carved out impressive seasons in their first year, while others flashed potential here and there, but all of them have reasons to believe the game will come much more naturally to them in year two. If so, that could mean big things for their respective teams.
Two members of the Kansas City Chiefs made Edwards’ list and they were the Chiefs first two draft picks in the 2019 NFL Draft, a good sign that Brett Veach knew what he was doing. Both wide receiver Mecole Hardman and safety Juan Thornhill provided the team plenty of highlights to back up their faith. If even greater things are still to come, the Chiefs should be looking good at both respective positions.
For Hardman, Edwards notes that Sammy Watkins is still in the way despite all expectations to the contrary, so his breakout might not resemble what it could have if the way was cleared out a bit more. Here’s Edwards:
"However, the team still intends to feed him more targets this season. When the Georgia product had the ball in his hands last season, he took advantage. It will be exciting to see him in a larger sample size."
Thornhill is just as exciting a prospect after settling into the secondary as a 16-game starter. By season’s end, he was a trustworthy defender who showed Pro Bowl potential before being injured in the season’s final week. Per Edwards:
"Thornhill suffered a torn ACL in the regular season finale but not before recording three interceptions during his rookie campaign. The ceiling is really high for him."
Both players were impact performers from their first days with the Chiefs, and it’s very clear that the front office’s connection with the coaching staff in K.C. is second-to-none. Veach has a vision for exactly the sort of performers that will excel under Andy Reid‘s tutelage and Hardman and Thornhill are just the latest examples. It will be fun to see how much they blossom in year two.