Every year, there’s always a short list of players who are being asked to step up for one reason or another. Whether it’s because they have a contract to live up to or fans have been waiting for them to break out. It’s a recurring headline—not just for the K.C. Chiefs but for every team.
This year is no exception. There are several players who come to mind when you think about Chiefs who could take the next step, as the team needs more production at several positions of need. Here are four players that the Chiefs need to step up in 2021:
By now you’ve probably heard it all about wide receiver Mecole Hardman and how he’s starting to look like a bad pick. What’s unfortunate for Mecole is he’ll always be compared to D.K. Metcalf and Terry McLaurin and other receivers drafted around him. At the same time I understand the frustration. A team should expect more out of its second round pick, especially one that required a trade up.
Hardman had a very promising rookie season in 2019, but in 2020, he took a clear step back and his production plateaued on increased targets. He also had the worst drop rate on the team. In his two seasons in the league, Hardman has recorded just over 500 receiving yards both times, but when you consider that peers like A.J. Brown and D.K. Metcalf have already progressed into 1,000-yard receivers and bonafide stars at the position, you can’t help but want more. That’s why Mecole Hardman has to step up in 2021.
Sammy Watkins, who was the Chiefs WR2 when he was on the field, is now gone. That spot is now up for grabs, and while many think Byron Pringle deserves a shot, we also have to acknowledge how big of an indictment it would be if a former UDFA overtook a former second round draft pick in his third season. If the Chiefs don’t draft another receiver, then Hardman has to take that spot. He just does.
Next season has to be the big step for Hardman if he wants to earn a second contract from Kansas City and the Chiefs also need more out of him.