The K.C. Chiefs took on the Arizona Cardinals on Friday in the second of three preseason games as they gear up for the 2021 regular season and a hopeful third consecutive trip to the Super Bowl.
The preseason is a great time to take stock of newly signed free agents, draft picks, and players who could potentially be on the cusp of a breakout year. Many of the Chiefs wide receivers have been discussed as being prepared for a “breakout year”—including Demarcus Robinson, Mecole Hardman, and Byron Pringle. Fans have been tuned into the preseason as the team searches for a solid number two receiver opposite Tyreek Hill to make up for the departure of Sammy Watkins.
However, the attention should be solely on Hardman as the number two for the season. Hardman turned in a four-catch, 39-yard first half against the Cards and one excellent touchdown. While this is just a preseason game, and we shouldn’t jump to conclusions based on a four-catch outing, Hardman seemed to silence doubters with obvious improvement in areas that troubled him last season.
Mecole Hardman looks ready to silence his doubters in 2021.
Hardman had a shoestring catch for a touchdown from Chad Henne that dispelled, at least for the moment, the concern considering his ability to make the tougher plays.
Hardman was heavily targeted in the Chiefs 17-10 win over the Cardinals. While only two of his five targets turned into catches on the first drive, Mahomes overthrew him a couple times in the first series of the night. Also, Hardman has the sort of promise that prompted the Chiefs to draft him in the first place, as Nate Taylor of the Athletic pointed out last night.
While Hardman didn’t haul in every pass that came his way, all signs point to him being the number two receiver entering 2021, especially considering that he received the most attention as the de facto top receiver while Tyreek Hill sat out this preseason game.
We would be remiss if we didn’t mention the performance of Byron Pringle, who had a 4-catch, 63-yard performance. While Pringle performed well, he doesn’t have the same body of work Hardman has entering his third season. Hardman has already collected two 500-plus yard seasons and was selected to the Pro Bowl as a return man his first season.
It’s an open competition behind Hill to garner the most targets among receivers, and we can expect a lot of shuffling behind Hill throughout the season if Hardman can’t lock it down early. As for now, however, it looks to be Hardman with the hot hand and he should be considered as the number two wideout for the start of the season, barring any changes to the depth chart via trade or free agency.