Who’s in on some Mecole Hardman. Dude got downfield for a lot big plays last year. Looks like an up-and-comer.

Hardman isn’t a regular yet, but he averaged 20.7 yards on his 26 catches last year, with 6 TDs. Including a kick return, his 7 TDs came from an average of 55 yards.

To me, it looks like he’s the future in Kansas City. I understand that Sammy Watkins is the starter (and put together a decent postseason) but I think I would rather have Hardman. He’s going to hit on some long touchdowns. With him seeing fewer double teams, it would not surprise me if Hardman scores more long touchdowns than either Tyreek Hill or Watkins.

As I play around with the numbers, I see that Hardman last year averaged over 13 yards per pass play. That’s including incompletions. In the last 10 years, only two players with at least 40 targets have averaged more yards per target, and they’re both notable guys – Tyler Lockett and Jordy Nelson.

On the downside, Hardman hasn’t played a bunch. He’s had only 41 passes thrown his way as a pro, so we’re getting into a small sample set. Statistical significance. (If we want to get into tiny sample sizes, who about Olamide Zaccheaus of the Falcons; with a 93-yard touchdown, he averaged 23 yards per pass play last year.)

In the chart below, I have flagged the other plays with no more than 50 targets. There are a few who clearly benefitted from a few long catches, or a limited, downfield role – specifically, Patrick Crayton and Robert Foster. If you like Hardman this year, you should have liked Foster last year (how did that work out for you?).

But only 28 players in the last 10 years have averaged at least 11 yards per catch. Hardman is No. 3 on that list.

2018Tyler Lockett, Sea.705796516.91013.8
2011Jordy Nelson, G.B.96681,26318.61513.2
2019Mecole Hardman, K.C.412653820.7613.1
2010Mike Wallace, Pitt.98601,25721.01012.8
2013• Kenny Stills, N.O.503264120.0512.8
2019A.J. Brown, Ten.84521,05120.2812.5
2014DeSean Jackson, Was.95561,16920.9612.3
2018• Robert Foster, Buff.442754120.0312.3
2010• Patrick Crayton, S.D.422851418.4112.2
2011Malcom Floyd, S.D.704385619.9512.2
2010Antonio Gates, S.D.655078215.61012.0
2019Stefon Diggs, Min.94631,13017.9612.0
2018• O.J. Howard, T.B.483456516.6511.8
2011Victor Cruz, NYG131821,53618.7911.7
2016Chris Hogan, N.E.583868017.9411.7
2017JuJu Smith-Schuster, Pitt.795891715.8711.6
2016• Taylor Gabriel, Atl.503557916.5611.6
2011James Jones, G.B.553863516.7711.5
2014• Martavis Bryant, Pitt.482654921.1811.4
2017Tyreek Hill, K.C.105751,18315.8711.3
2017Ted Ginn, N.O.705378714.9411.2
2014Kenny Stills, N.O.836393114.8311.2
2018• Will Fuller, Hou.453250315.7411.2
2019Mike Williams, LAC90491,00120.4211.1
2010DeSean Jackson, Phil.95471,05622.5611.1
2018Mike Evans, T.B.138861,52417.7811.0
2018• Mark Andrews, Balt.503455216.2311.0
2019Chris Godwin, T.B.121861,33315.5911.0

—Ian Allan