With Tyreek Hill gone, there is a gaping hole in the Kansas City Chiefs offense.
Patrick Mahomes hopes Mecole Hardman helps fill the void.
"He’'s a guy who has always worked hard," Mahomes told reporters of Hardman "He's a guy who is always putting in the time, just kind of waiting for his opportunity. I mean, when you have two All-Pro Chiefs legends that are getting a lot of the catches, it's hard to get everybody the targets that they want. But every time he's in there and has his opportunity, he's going 100 miles an hour—as hard as he can. So you respect guys like that. And you're happy that he'll have an even bigger chance—a bigger opportunity—this year.
"I expect big things from him."
Hardman, a 2019 second-round pick, has seen his role in the offense increase in each of his three NFL seasons. He set career highs with 59 receptions for 693 yards last season, finishing third on the team behind Hill and tight end Travis Kelce in both categories.
Kelce's role will be unchanged in 2022; he'll be the middle-of-the-field chain mover and future Hall of Famer he's always been.
The role of WR1 is far murkier. Juju Smith-Schuster signed with the Chiefs this offseason but is more of an underneath slot option. He doesn't have the skill set to step into the Hill role.
Hardman has gotten several opportunities when Hill has been out of the lineup to replicate his production and has rarely come through. It's likely the Chiefs target a wideout with one of their two first-round picks, but even then, there's going to be a learning curve.