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Mecole Hardman’s Momentum

By BJ Bennett
SouthernPigskin.com
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In looking for a specific profile for Mecole Hardman, think "playmaker".

Georgia's Mecole Hardman is a rare talent. The tape and the numbers agree. After compiling 2,400 all-purpose yards and scoring 14 total touchdowns the last two years for the Bulldogs, Hardman put an exclamation point on his production with a standout performance at the NFL Combine. Putting on a show on the big stage is nothing new for Hardman, who caught an 80-yard touchdown pass and ran for another score in the College Football Playoff Final against Alabama two years ago. He continued to wow in Indianapolis. 

Hardman, of all participants, ran the fifth-fastest forty yard dash time at 4.33. He, measuring in at 187 pounds, also added 17 bench press reps of 225, the most of any wide receiver under 205 pounds. Fast and strong, Hardman is, perhaps better described, dynamic and explosive; 5'10'' isn't as much his height as it is the start of a very suggestive sequence. Given Hardman's physical abilities, the anticipation is that he will be able to impact the professional game a variety of different ways. In looking for a specific profile, think "playmaker".

What Hardman can do it a little bit of everything.

As a wide receiver at Georgia, Hardman's two-season totals were 59 receptions for 950 yards and eleven touchdowns. Playing in a run-heavy offense, he made the most of his opportunities as he reached the endzone once every 5.36 catches, the 8th-highest two-year margin of the 48 wide receivers at the combine. Hardman, as a return specialist, ranked 8th nationally with an average of 11.78 yards per attempt in 2017 and finished second in the country with 20.06 yards per try last fall.

Though not many have had the true utility of a difference-maker like Hardman, there are a couple of high-profile examples. Since 2000, three college football players have had a single season with 35 receptions, seven touchdown grabs, 25 yards per kick return and 20 yards per punt return: T.Y. Hilton (2011), Christian Kirk (2016) and Hardman (2018). Of those three, Hardman, at 15.5, averaged the most yards per catch.

On paper, the similarities between Hilton and Hardman are notable. Though the 4-time Pro Bowler was more productive on the perimeter in college, starring at Florida International, Hilton measured in at the 2012 NFL Combine at 5'10'', 183 pounds. Despite not running at the event due to injury, he was reportedly clocked at 4.34 in the forty yard dash. Hilton, to date, has 507 career receptions, 49 punt returns, ten kick returns and even nine rushes. In terms of fully maximizing his burst and versatility, Hardman can look at Hilton as the ultimate example. 

Entering the NFL Draft after his junior season, the ceiling, for the home run-threat Hardman, has still not yet been reached. Before excelling in Indy, he finished his college career in rhythm, catching touchdown passes in three of his last four games. Looking ahead for Hardman, there is more to come.

Hardman, with the ability to line up at multiple positions and change a game with just one chance, will head to new his team with talent, options and upside alike.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is SouthernPigskin.com's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: bj@espncoastal.com / Twitter: @BJBennettSports