Mecole Hardman is a rookie wide receiver that is flying under the radar in dynasty fantasy football rookie drafts. His tape says that he shouldn’t be.
Mecole Hardman is an undersized wide receiver, but he is athletic, and he has the traits to be a very successful wide receiver out of the slot in the NFL. His production at Georgia was limited, but his traits are good, and you could be drafting a later round version of Parris Campbell in your dynasty rookie drafts.
Mecole Hardman posted an elite #RAS after putting up good agility numbers at his pro day. Aside from size, he didn't post a single athletic test under average for his position. pic.twitter.com/HzYJY51Jlk
— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) March 30, 2019
Mecole Hardman has the speed to take the top off a defense. He is going to be a threat vertically, no matter what team he ends up on. As I brought up in my article about Parris Campbell, there is more to being a deep threat than just being fast. While Parris Campbell’s limited usage vertically leaves a lot of questions about the other aspects of his profile as a deep threat, Mecole Hardman has checked some of these boxes.
Hardman is excellent at tracking the ball down the field, drifting to where the ball is going to drop and properly positioning his hands. While he isn’t a big target, he does well to expand his catch radius by extending and catching the ball away from his frame. His ability to track the ball down the field and extend for the football will give his quarterback bigger windows to throw to at the next level.
While his route tree was limited in college, both his tape and his combine testing show that he is explosive laterally and that he should be able to be an excellent seperator horitzonally at the next level. He is obviously going to have to spend some time with the route tree, but he has shown the ability to make crisp, explosive cuts when asked to run routes that deviated from his usual vertical role.
After the catch, Mecole Hardman is dynamic. He has the obvious speed to burn defenders and outrun defenders, but he is also crafty in open field, understands angles, sets up his blocks, and transitions well from a receiver to a runner. He is a threat with the ball in his hands, and will probably garner touches on jet sweeps and screens at the next level.
There are several primary concerns with Mecole Hardman’s tape.
First of all, his lack of size shows up pretty consistently on tape. He isn’t strong or physical enough to win against press or win in tight coverage with physical corners. He won’t dominate the catch point against bigger corners and is going to need to be kept clean in the NFL. He is likely strictly a slot receiver at the next level.
With that said, in the slot, Hardman should be able to get free releases, attack the seams, get the ball in his hands quicker, and have more space to operate, putting his speed and burst on full display when working toward the sideline in the intermediate and deep areas of the field.
Secondly, like Parris Campbell, we don’t really have a good feel for how he will perform in contested catch situations. Mecole Hardman has issues with concentration drops, and he isn’t particularly big or physical, so I think it is fair to assume that he does not project to be strong in contested catch situations in the NFL. This would hurt him as both a deep threat and a slot receiver.
Finally, I question Hardman’s effort at times. Most of the time, he is a highly competitive player that is playing hard and making the most of his reps. You do see him take the occasional play off when the play is clearly not designed for him. This is something that I may put more stock into than I should, but it is worth noting.
Overall, Mecole Hardman has a ton of upside. Far more upside than his current dynasty rookie hype seems to indicate. I would much rather have Mecole Hardman in the fourth round of dynasty fantasy football rookie drafts than have Parris Campbell in the first. They aren’t the same player, but they project to similar roles in the NFL.
I think that Mecole Hardman’s dynasty stock is going to rise after the NFL Draft. He is going to be selected earlier than most people think, and dynasty rookie ADP will adjust accordingly. He won’t be available in round four after the NFL Draft. He’s a player that I am targeting if you do your draft before the NFL Draft. Even if you aren’t a believer in his talent, it is an investment. His stock will be rising soon, offering you an immediate return on your investment.