The first player selected by the Chiefs in the NFL Draft wasn’t a defensive player as expected, but he might fill a need.
The Chiefs took Georgia’s Mecole Hardman, a speedy wide receiver and return specialist.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid said the selection wasn’t made with Hill’s situation in mind.
“He can play inside and outside, he played both at Georgia,” Reid said. “This is somebody (general manager Brett Veach) had his eye on from the get-go. It doesn’t have anything to do with things going on now. It’s player he’s felt very good about. The way the board fell, (we were) in a position to do it.”
The Chiefs were set to make their first selection at No. 61 overall but traded up with the Los Angeles Rams for the 56th pick, giving up their 167th overall pick.
Hardman, 5-foot-10 and 187 pounds, was a top 50 prospect nationally when he signed with the Bulldogs for the 2016 season.
Hardman finished with 34 receptions for 532 yards and seven touchdowns for UGA this past season. He scored two touchdowns against Alabama in the CFP National Championship Game after the 2017 season, including one on an 80-yard reception.
Hardman averaged 20.1 yards per punt return and 25.2 yards on kickoff returns. Although he didn’t reach the number of returns to qualify on the list of NCAA leaders, he was named ESPN.com’s All-America kick returner for 2018.
“The place you really see is grit is in the return game,” Reid said. “He’s strong, breaks tackles. Then you get an idea of his speed also as a wide receiver and a return guy.”
Hardman ran the third-fastest 40-yard dash time at the scouting combine among wide receivers. At 4.33, just was .02 seconds behind Parris Campbell and Andy Isabella.
The prospect of playing on a team with NFL MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes appeals to Hardman.
“Just watching him play, seeing the things he did ... I’m grateful to be in that situation and I’m looking forward to work with and getting the chemistry going,” Hardman said.