Mecole Hardman discussed his growth with reporters in his second season with the Chiefs.
Wide receiver Mecole Hardman is in his sophomore season with the Kansas City Chiefs, a year in which he’s able to read and react to what’s happening on the field with significant experience in Andy Reid‘s system. He’s won a Super Bowl. He’s been in and around Arrowhead for well over a year. Despite the presence of a global pandemic, this is a key season of growth for Hardman.
Every NFL player experiences a leap of some kind in his second season. No matter the position, each player, when asked, will mention the speed of the game slowing or the lifelong instincts from playing the position rising to the surface. While some players enjoy instant success and others need even more time, it’s the leap between year one and two that often makes the biggest difference in a player’s career.
This year, Hardman says he’s grown in a number of areas. The Chiefs wideout spoke with reporters on Wednesday and detailed the areas in which he’s realized his game has changed since last season.
"“Probably just more awareness of what’s going on, coverages, the playbook and stuff in general, playing freely. I think my route running has gotten better. Like I said, just recognizing the coverages and knowing where I need to be and chemistry with Pat. I think I grew in all those aspects and will continue to grow as the season goes."
So far this season, Hardman has caught 30 of 42 targets (both already career highs), which is an 8 percent improvement on last season’s catch rate—from 63 to 71 percent. He has 449 receiving yards on the year with another four games to go, so he’s also likely to eclipse his rookie total of 539 yards as well. While he hasn’t found the end zone as often (6 touchdowns last season receiving to only 3 so far in 2020), he’s also avoided fumbling the ball once this year after 2 turnovers last year.
Earlier this year, Hardman was placed on the Chiefs COVID-19 list, which could have seriously this second season, but the Chiefs were fortunate that Hardman not only remained without symptoms but that he also tested positive over the team’s week off. Reporters also asked him about his stint on the reserve list.
"“You can get it from anywhere multiple ways. It’s a virus that we don’t know how to contain right now. The best way to do is to just go to work and go home. Somewhere in between that, something happened. Thank God I didn’t have no symptoms or nothing like that. I was perfectly fine. I had to just do the 10 days that I needed to do. It was on a bye week, which was good. I didn’t miss no significant time for the team. When they needed me I was there for the game. You just gotta be careful and be aware of your surroundings.”"
Hardman first joined the Chiefs as the initial pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, as general manager Brett Veach traded up six selections to land at No. 56 in the second round to grab the former Georgia product. He’s presently under contract through the 2022 season.