Previous Career Production
In Hardman’s previous three seasons with the Chiefs, he has been a formidable third maybe fourth receiving option. Hardman has many of the same tools as former Chiefs receiver Tyreek Hill had. Hill was just a more explosive player so he saw more touches and playing time. Because of this Hardman never had the opportunity to be fully utilized with the Chiefs’ receiver-friendly system. In his previous seasons with the Chiefs, Hardman accumulated about 1,800 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns.
Hardman has seen his fair share of huge plays in big situations. But with Hill, most of those designed plays are designated for him. Hardman has been handicapped because of this ever since he entered the league. Fans have been waiting to see Hardman step up into a more prominent role since he was a rookie. And now with the NFL’s best speedster out of his way, he will get his chance.
Hill is in Miami and the Chiefs have a new-look receiver core. This is the year that Hardman is primed to breakout. The new receivers on the roster JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling bring many other abilities to the offense. Valdes-Scantling was known to be a deep threat in Green-Bay but his 6-foot-4 frame will keep him on the outside leaving the slot to Hardman. Now Hardman will have many more big-play opportunities with plays that are designed for him rather than Hill. He will also see a lot more action in the run game as well in trick plays which Andy Reid is known for.
What will help Hardman the most this year is the fact that the new receivers do not have the same experience with Patrick Mahomes as he does. This will be the reason that Hardman starts off the season on a good note. Not only will he be the new deep ball receiver but early on while the defense is double-teaming Travis Kelce, Hardman has the chance to be Mahomes’ new go-to man.
Will Hardman be a Tyreek Hill Replacement?
A receiver of Hill’s talent cannot be replaced. Hill is a top-five receiver in the NFL, that can’t simply just be replicated. But Hardman has the skillset where he can and will fill the void of the short speedster that will make some big plays this season. Hardman has a chance to really prove what type of player he is this season as he steps into a prime role in the offense. With a lot of new faces, Mahomes will look for familiarity early on as he learns how the newcomers play. Time will tell what Hardman will do, but he will be set to have a big season in 2022.