Some expectations for Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Mecole Hardman have been lofty. In terms of role, he hasn't emerged as many had hoped. His statistical progression is still worth noting, though:
Hardman's aforementioned career-best numbers were capped off by perhaps the best game of his still young career on Saturday. Against the Denver Broncos, the speedster whom the Chiefs selected in the second round back in 2019 had eight receptions. More importantly, he had his first career 100-yard game. After the Chiefs' Week 18 contest, Hardman spoke about how it felt to finally crack 100 receiving yards after dozens of tries thus far in the NFL.
"Damn, finally, man!" Hardman said. "I finally got 100, you know? It's been a long time since I've seen 100 yards. Back to South Carolina and Georgia was the last time I'd seen 100 yards. It's a great achievement. It's something to definitely be proud about, especially since you got the win. Hopefully I can get some more of those, but just know I'm happy about that 100 right there."
Hardman was forced to step up against the Broncos, as star receiver Tyreek Hill injured his heel in warmups and didn't play a ton throughout the afternoon. Hardman, one of the fastest players in the NFL, is the closest thing the Chiefs have to a player like Hill. The 27-year-old's quickness and production can't be replaced completely, but Hardman did his best imitation job. Hardman was presented with an opportunity and according to him, he wanted to make a profound impact.
"Tyreek didn't play, you know?" Hardman said. "When a superstar like that isn't on the field — isn't on the field as much — somebody's got to step up and take those snaps, take those targets and make the best out of it. That's what I did when I got in the game and played as much as I did, I just wanted to take advantage of the opportunity and make the most of it."
As the Chiefs gear up for yet another playoff run in the Patrick Mahomes era, everyone knows that Hill and Travis Kelce are the two top options in Andy Reid's offense. With that said, Hardman and Byron Pringle have each had their respective moments as ancillary pieces during the 2021 season. Hardman's time came on Saturday and if that serves as a sign of what's to come, he may be capable of stepping up again the next time his number is called.