Mecole Hardman brings a new level of speed to the Jets while the team works to bring Aaron Rodgers to New York officially. After adding Allen Lazard on a four-year deal a few weeks ago, the Jets added Mecole Hardman to strengthen their receiver room further.
Hardman, a former second-round draft pick, signed a one-year, $4.5 million deal. It has a $3 million signing bonus, a base salary of $1.08 million, and $4.08 million guaranteed.
Hardman brings a speed element to the field that few people in the NFL can match. At the NFL Combine in 2019, Hardman ran a 4.33 40-yard dash, giving him a 9.9 RAS score. According to Next Gen Stats, he has also hit 21.87 miles per hour, showing that his speed directly translates to the field.
Hardman’s speed has been utilized by his former team, the Kansas City Chiefs, in various ways on offense. In the passing game, Hardman has only been under 500 yards receiving once in his first four seasons, which was in a 2022 season shortened by injury. He can be utilized both in the slot and on the outside; according to PFF, Kansas City used him in the slot for 52.3% of his snaps and on the outside for 46.2% of his snaps over his four years there.
With this versatility, Hardman did most of his damage in screens and the short area of the field. In both the 1-10 yard range and behind the line of scrimmage, Hardman had two touchdowns and at least 40 receiving yards. Hardman also can contribute in the run game, as he had two touchdowns this past season and has accounted for eight rushing first downs on 20 career rushes.
Hardman also is a crucial asset on special teams, as his speed allows him to be dangerous in the return game. He has 927 kick return yards in his career with one touchdown, and an average of 23.3 yards per return. On punts, Hardman has 555 career yards and one touchdown as well.
For the new-look Jets, Hardman seems to be filling in as an upgraded version of Braxton Berrios. His return ability and speed should allow the Jets to put themselves in an advantageous field position throughout the game. On offense, he should have success as the team’s number four wide receiver. Without defenses focusing their attention on him, due to the presence of weapons such as Garrett Wilson, Hardman’s speed should help the Jets keep the chains moving. In addition, his rushing ability on jet sweeps should keep defenses guessing and open up plays for other weapons on the team.
Mecole Hardman brings a new level of speed
In his press conference, Hardman spoke about why he picked the Jets in free agency.
“I think the Jets… have a great foundation here. They got some nice pieces. I think Allen Lazard, him signing and playing alongside him is great too. They got a great second-year player in Garrett Wilson, who had an absolutely unbelievable year. Those names, just to play alongside them is definitely attractive…the Jets were just the right fit for me.”
When asked about his role, Hardman said that he needed to discuss it further with the offensive coaching staff and that he “wants to do what he can do to help the team win games.” Hardman also stated that the return game is something” he loves to do” and wants to continue with the Jets.
Hardman should pay immediate dividends for the Jets once the regular season starts. Speed is vital in the modern NFL, and the Jets’ offense and special teams should heavily benefit from the level of it that Hardman brings. Combined with the rest of the Jets’ weapons, such as Breece Hall and Garrett Wilson, Hardman is yet another addition to an offense that could be the team’s best in years.