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Chiefs WR Mecole Hardman has "continued his ascension" early in training camp after a strong spring, The Athletic's Nate Taylor writes. "Known for his rare speed, Hardman has produced more consistent repetitions while polishing his route-running ability in the middle of the field," Taylor adds. "Hardman has run routes from each of the Chiefs’ main three receiver positions ... The first three practices have featured Hardman executing shorter routes, the types where he has to be precise in both his release and his cuts to give [QB Patrick] Mahomes a clear throwing window." Mahomes, meanwhile, has praised Hardman's improved maturity and comfort in the offense. This sure sounds like a guy ready to take a big step forward in year 3. Hardman is an upside pick at his 10th- or 11th-round price tag.

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Per NFL insider Albert Breer, the Chiefs have seen a “more mature version” of WR Mecole Hardman this offseason. Breer writes that Hardman “had a lot of growing up to do coming into the NFL,” even beyond his rookie season. It’s a huge year for the 24-year-old, as his contract is set to expire in 2023. But following the additions of Skyy Moore, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and JuJu Smith-Schuster, it’s clear that Kansas City isn’t expecting a major leap from the incumbent.

Chiefs HC Andy Reid said from the Combine that he was encouraged by WR Mecole Hardman's growth last season. "Mecole did a good job, continually got better throughout the year and worked hard and it paid off for him," Reid said. "We found that groove as coaches of things that he did best and tried to utilize him in those positions." Hardman set career highs in 2021 with 59 catches and 693 receiving yards. But he still finished just 47th among WRs in PPR points -- and his best fantasy outing came in Week 18. In 3 playoff games, Hardman never topped a 57% snap rate and totaled just 9 targets. Reid's comments make it sound like the Chiefs like him in that limited role. We'll see if we hear anything to the contrary.

Chiefs WR Mecole Hardman started Friday night's preseason finally with Tyreek Hill in a 2-WR package. He would go on to play 9 of Patrick Mahomes' 15 snaps, according to Pro Football Focus, vs. 14 for Hill and 11 for Demarcus Robinson. Byron Pringle was the only other WR to see 1st-team work, but he played just 1 snap. We'll take that level of involvement for Hardman. It would be nice to have him as the clear 2nd wideout ahead of Robinson, but even splitting that role while clearly working among the top 3 should present enough playing time to help Hardman approach his high weekly fantasy ceiling. He's a risk-reward pick in the middle rounds of your fantasy football draft. Robinson is well worth a look near the end of drafts. Pringle looks like he'll need an injury ahead of him to make him relevant.

Chiefs WR Mecole Hardman finished with a 4-39-1 line in Friday night's preseason game vs. the Cardinals. But 2 of those catches and the TD came from QB Chad Henne. Hardman caught just 2 of 6 targets from QB Patrick Mahomes. Hardman played 29 of 32 snaps (91%) with Mahomes -- but note that Tyreek Hill was out. We know the Chiefs view Hardman as a Hill handcuff. But it remains unclear just how much playing time he’ll get alongside Hill. Hardman played only in 3-WR sets in the 1st preseason game.

Chiefs WR Mecole Hardman has been activated from the COVID list and will play against the Raiders on Sunday night. WR Sammy Watkins (hamstring, calf) has been ruled out for that one. Hardman and DeMarcus Robinson will continue to operate as the #2 and #3 WRs for Kansas City.

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