If the Falcons are looking add a little more juice to their receiving corps, here is an option with plenty of upside.
A “new” offensive coordinator in the fold for the Atlanta Falcons brings a game plan that is familiar with their starting quarterback and star wide receiver. Coming off a season in which the Falcons were 10th in scoring and sixth in yards, the team still decided to transition to a more established play caller. As a result, the offense will have more of a vertical based attack.
Even with playmakers such as Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, and Mohamed Sanu in place, the offense can open up even more with a speedy deep threat that will have plenty of opportunities thanks to the veterans mentioned above. Hence why the Falcons have had deep interest in this blazing wideout that we will break down on today.
Mecole Hardman Scouting Report
Weight: 187 pounds
Career stats: 60 receptions, 961 yards, 16.0 ypc, 11 touchdowns; 39 punt returns, 592 yards, 15.2 ypr, TD; 35 kick returns, 875 yards, 25.0 ypr
Games watched: 2017 vs. Auburn, 2018 vs. Alabama, 2018 vs. Vanderbilt, 2018 vs. LSU, 2019 vs. Texas
Strengths: Hardman’s game is predicated off his impressive speed, which was solidified at the NFL Combine with his 4.33 40-yard dash. His 40-time was tied for fifth amongst all runners at the Combine. His after the catch ability is excellent thanks to his swift burst in the open field and ability to elude tacklers with ease. Hardman’s big play skill means a touchdown can occur whenever the ball is in his hands.
Defenders will have a tough time getting their hands on Hardman in the open field thanks to his nimbleness as a runner and fluid elusiveness. Opposing teams played plenty of off coverage against Hardman because of his top-end speed but his burst out of his stance can eat up cushion instantly. This past season at the University of Georgia resulted in second team All-SEC honors as a returner. During his entire collegiate career, Hardman showed off his versatility as he saw time at cornerback, wide receiver, and kick/punt returner.
Weaknesses: Overall production on offense is not much to write home about. Because of his arm length and wingspan, Hardman will struggle to win contested catches. His catch radius is narrow and not overly impressive. Because of the offensive scheme and lack of experience at the position, Hardman was not required to orchestrate a developed route tree. Hardman seems to excel at verticals and out routes and not much else. Hardman’s overall play strength will get tested as he sees more press coverage at the professional level.
Conclusion: The Falcons have appeared to show great interest in the dynamic weapon from the SEC and even though the team boasts arguably the best trio at receiver, Hardman is a different breed. There is plenty of rawness in his game as he only has two seasons worth of time at the position. But the Falcons have that luxury of having a well-built receiving corps in place so Hardman can still develop while also providing more speed on the field.
In the slot is where Hardman can thrive and his athleticism will fit quite well with defenses worrying about Jones and Ridley. Over time, his blocking will need to show some sign of improvement and his route tree must expand, but Hardman’s mid-round value can prove to be a steal for the Falcons in the long run.