Mecole Hardman is missing
I’m not sure this one is a lesson so much as just a growing concern. I hope this “lesson” is just the word jumble of a nervous Chiefs fan. But I think it is perfectly rational to have serious doubt about Mecole Hardman’s role in this offense.
With Sammy Watkins out a few weeks, common sense dictates that Hardman’s production or, at the very least, his snap count would increase. Instead, it was Demarcus Robinson who filled in for Watkins. Hardman played on 29 offensive snaps compared to Demarcus Robinson’s 69.
Is Hardman a problem? Well, that simply depends on what Reid and Bienemy envision his role on offense to be. If he is expected to shore up Watkins’ production, as in catch some big third downs and haul in contested grabs, then there’s reason to worry whether he’s up to that task.
On the other hand, if Reid and Bienemy view him more as a kind of deep threat, outside-zone/drop pass speedster, than maybe not. Now, I don’t mean to compare Hardman to a strict gadget/speed player. I think he’s shown he has more than that. Hardman averages around 18 yards per reception and has already painted our TV screens with plenty of streaking touchdowns. Our concern about Hardman largely depends on the role he is supposed to play on the offense.
Hardman was drafted with the Chiefs’ first pick in the 2019 draft (albeit a second rounder), amidst uncertainty regarding the future of Tyreek Hill. That kind of early-round investment means that, more likely than not, Andy Reid envisioned Hardman as a meaningful, productive contributor for the Chiefs’ offense.
The story has yet to be written on Hardman, and he is more than skilled enough to overcome some of his hiccups. Down the line, it’s worth monitoring his snap count and on-field contribution, especially in the weeks that Watkins is absent. Hardman’s performance in these games will serve as a heavy indication as to his role on the offense, and whether fans should expand their concern going forward.