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Can Mecole Hardman’s Athleticism Transform The Redskins Slot WR Position?

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Hogs Haven takes a look at 2019 NFL Draft prospects that could contribute to the Redskins

NCAA Football: Georgia Tech at Georgia Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Mecole Hardman, WR
School: Georgia | Conference: SEC
College Experience: Junior | Age: 21
Height / Weight: 5-10 / 187 lbs
Projected Draft Status: 5th or 6th Round
NFL Comparison: Ritchie James

College Statistics

Player Overview

A 5-star recruit from Bowman, Georgia Hardman was the #1 Athlete in the country. Kirby Smart was able to fend off Alabama, Auburn, Clemson and many other programs. Hardman initially leaned towards playing defense when he got to Athens and was actually listed as a cornerback his freshman year though he didn’t see much playing time. Hardman made to the switch to WR in his sophomore season because the coaches thought he added more value to the receiving and return game. They were right. Georgia’s passing offense didn’t light up the stat sheet in terms of total yards but Hardman has been one of Georgia’s leading receivers the past two seasons. He’s also been their punt and kick return guy and had really good success this part season with his return averages. He was a big play threat during his career at Georgia and believes he can help a team in the same way in the NFL. Hardman confirmed his game changing speed at the Combine and will be on the radars of teams looking for a playmaker with versatility in the late rounds.

Strengths

  • Elite speed, good athleticism for the position.
  • Explosive player who gets off the LOS quickly. Has the speed and athleticism to bust zone coverage in a hurry and work the intermediate and deep levels on the field. On shorter routes a threat with the ball in his hand as a RAC receiver.
  • Moved around frequently in the Georgia offense can work out of the backfield slot and outside, put in motion to tip off and find soft spots in coverage. Especially dangerous on slot and routes that move him into the seam deep.
  • Not afraid to get in the mix as a blocker.
  • Added value as a kick and punt returner.

Weaknesses

  • Hands are alarmingly inconsistent at times. He isn’t a natural pass catch and needs to work on his technique and concentration. Short arms have him alligator catches at times.
  • Ran a limited route tree (go, slant, out hitch) and may be asked to do more in the NFL. Routes need greater attention to detail and crispness.
  • Doesn’t do well with contested catches and it looks like he needs to be open to haul it in reliably for the most part.

Let’s see his work:

More Mecole Hardman videos

To highlight the player's measurements, use:

How He Would Fit On The Redskins?

Hardman can certainly be an option for the Redskins to compete in the slot. He may go earlier than I have projected because of his athletic gifts but when I watch him I see a really raw receiver. It’s slightly understandable because he’s only spent two years at the position and he is young but you would have liked to see a bit more consistency from him over his career as a receiver. He’ll need to work on the #1 duty of a WR: catching the ball. Additionally he needs to work on the #2 duty of a WR route running. It’s a tall order but Hardman could prove quite the value if he develops in these areas. His athletic ability also lets the Redskins do more creative things on offense if they so choose. What he looks just fine at in the meantime is a return man. The Redskins badly need one of those and Hardman has improved over his career in his area. In open space he has really good vision and he can get chuck yards and break a few as a returner. If drafted by the Redskins Hardman will have some competition from Trey Quinn in the slot but may eventually win out because of his athleticism.