KANSAS CITY, Mo. — With questions surrounding the status of star receiver Tyreek Hill, it was no suprise the Chiefs went for another receiver with the first pick in the 2019 NFL draft, selecting Georgia's Mecole Hardman.
General manager Brett Veach said Hardman's speed is what makes him stand out.
"He has something that you can't coach," Veach said. "His ability to take a simple bubble screen 80, 90 yards is exciting. His ability to flip field positions on the kick return game and the punt return game is exciting. I'm sure coach (Andy) Reid will have a lot of fun with him."
Hardman offers a skillset comparable to Hill. The 5-10, 187-pound Hardman delivered a 4.33 40-yard time at the NFL Combine. Hill, at 5-10, 185 pounds, posted a 4.24 40-time at his pro day in 2016.
Like Hill, Hardman was also a college track star. He ran the leadoff leg for Georgia's 4×100-meter relay team that finished sixth in the 2017 SEC Championships. Hill finished fifth in the 200 meters at the NCAA Division Indoor track and field championships in 2014.
The Chiefs moved up from No. 61 overall in the second round to No. 56 to select Hardman. They traded their fifth-round pick, No. 167 overall, to the Los Angeles Rams in order to move up five spots.
Hardman was an second team All-SEC at return specialists as a junior last season. He caught 59 passes for 950 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Hardman started his college career at Georgia as a cornerback, and some NFL teams considered testing him at that position. But Dane Brugler, draft analyst for The Athletic, says Hardman has the tools to develop into a mismatch nightmare for defenses.
“Hardman is undersized and unrefined, but he is a phenomenal athlete with the speed and suddenness in space to develop into an impact slot receiver and return man for an NFL team willing to be patient with his skill-set," Brugler wrote.