Georgia wide receiver Mecole Hardman opened eyes with his performance at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis on Saturday. The biggest splashes came when Hardman ran two sub-4.4 40-yard dashes, with the best time coming in at 4.33 seconds. That number put him in a tie for the third fastest time among receivers. I imagine your own against a Combine superstar such as Ole Miss’ D.K. Metcalf probably does wonders for your draft stock.
And if you’re trying to visualize what that speed would look like on the football field, I feel as if NFL.com draft and scouting guru Daniel Jeremiah put it best when he said: “When he gets out on the open field, it’s like watching a bunch of rowboats try to catch up to a speedboat.”
Speed like that is going to come with some lofty comparisons.
“Hardman could develop into a lesser version of Tyreek Hill with his playmaking potential after the catch, on deep balls and as a returner,” NFL.com analyst Lance Zierlein writes in Hardman’s draft profile. “Speed kills in today’s game and Hardman’s could be coveted on Day 2 (Rounds 2-3).”
Zierlein also drops a Tyler Lockett comp on Hardman. And while Lockett isn’t on the same level as Hill, both leverage their speed to create explosive plays as receivers and returners.
To be clear, Hardman is more than just a fast guy who excels in glorified indoor underwear Olympics. Hardman has the type of do-it-all skill-set that should have teams clamoring to take a deeper look. In addition to catching 35 passes for 543 yards and seven touchdowns as a junior last season, Hardman was a special teams ace who averaged 20.1 yards per punt return (16 returns, 321 yards, 1 TD) and 25.2 yards while returning kicks (14 returns, 353 yards). Over the last two years of his college career, Hardman scored 14 touchdowns (he even added two rushing scores) and showed he could provide impact in multiple phases of the game.
While you have a moment, check out this highlight package:
At this point, you’re probably wondering where the Bears can sign up to draft Hardman. And even if you believe Chicago is set at the top of the depth chart, there is no denying the team could use some help in the return game and if that help comes in the form of someone who can contribute as a receiver, then so be it. As Zierlein points out, Hardman will likely land as a Day 2 pick. That’s good news for a Bears team that doesn’t have any picks in the first two rounds. Unfortunately, there is a distinct possibility Hardman is off the board when the Bears go on the clock for the first time with pick No. 87 as Chad Reuter’s most recent mock draft write-up has Hardman going 71st to the Broncos.
For what it’s worth it appears as if Bears GM Ryan Pace has taken a liking to prospects from the University of Georgia. And why wouldn’t he? There is a lot to like when you look at Roquan Smith, Leonard Floyd, and Javon Wims. Beyond those notable standouts, the Bulldogs play in the college football meat-grinder that is the SEC and churn out high-end professional talent annually. Sure, Georgia has been on the wrong side of some recent high-profile meltdowns in recent years, but there is no denying the school produces quality prospects every draft.
So why not one more? Especially one who seems to be a perfect fit for the Bears’ needs entering 2019.
— Bleacher Nation Bears (@BN_Bears) March 2, 2019