One thing we often found ourselves saying last year when former Chiefs receiver Sammy Watkins was out with injury was, "this could be a big Mecole Hardman game". However, that hardly ever came to fruition as Hardman did not produce at the level many thought he could in year two with more opportunities.
Hardman earned 21 more targets in 2020 than he did in 2019 but despite that increase in targets and 15 more receptions than he had as a rookie, Hardman had only 22 more yards (560) and less touchdowns (4). Hardman also dropped 7 of his 61 targets.
Going into the offseason, the No. 2 wide receiver spot was a concern and a large portion of the fanbase didn't have faith in Hardman stepping up to take it as he plateaued in year two and formed a lot of bad habits like not finishing through his routes and lacking common sense awareness.
All in all, there was reason to be optimistic about Hardman given his undeniable traits and ability to change a game. He would just need to work on being a better all-around receiver.
Game one versus the Cleveland Browns wasn't a great start to Mecole Hardman's breakout year campaign, though, A measly 3 catches for 19 yards, Hardman didn't make a huge impact and even ran out of bounds before clearing the first down marker on one of his runs which further perpetuated the narrative that Hardman lacks awareness.
Luckily for Hardman, the Chiefs are about to play the Baltimore Ravens next week on the road which is a matchup Hardman has thrived over the past couple years. In two games versus the Ravens Hardman has posted 6 receptions for 178 yards and 2 TD's.
What stands out the most about those numbers is that Hardman has had such a large impact with just 6 catches in two games. Though, we'd all love to see Hardman become more of a chain mover and make more catches by attacking the middle of the field, he has attacked the Baltimore Ravens' zone defense very well in his career and the Ravens have failed to effectively contain him.
Not to mention, the Ravens lost former Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters to a torn ACL before the season started so they're already down a man to contribute in the secondary. So, even if Hardman doesn't have the numbers this game the Ravens secondary will be on pins and needles trying to cover him which could open things up for the rest of the offense.
The Ravens are also a team that blitzes heavily and Patrick Mahomes has been able to expose defenses that blitz constantly so this game could be an opportunity for everyone to get in on the action and for Hardman to take advantage underneath and prove his worth as more than just a deep threat.
If Hardman wants to make a statement in the early portion of this season then this matchup is the one to do so.