Following the departure of Sammy Watkins this offseason, Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Mecole Hardman is widely considered the top candidate to see a boost in targets and production in 2021.
Compared to his output as a rookie in 2019, the former second-round pick was the beneficiary of 21 additional targets and 15 receptions last season while Watkins missed six contests due to injury. Still, Hardman finished the regular season with only 22 more receiving yards (560) and two fewer touchdowns (four) than his inaugural NFL campaign. His prowess as a returner was again on display with a 67-yard punt return touchdown in Week 14, though his kick return opportunities (nine) were slashed by two-thirds from 2019.
Now entering his third season in Andy Reid’s offense with Patrick Mahomes under center, the Chiefs will undoubtedly be counting on the speedster to take the next step in his development as a receiver. On Friday, April 16, former All-Pro wideout Brandon Marshall revealed the strong message he recently shared with Hardman.
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Marshall Calls out Hardman for Lack of Mental Training
Having last played an NFL snap for the Seattle Seahawks in 2018, Marshall, who racked up 12,351 yards and 83 touchdowns for six teams across 13 seasons in the league, now co-hosts FS1’s morning talk show First Things First.
On Friday while discussing Los Angeles Clippers guard Paul George, who told reporters earlier in the week that a renewed mindset was behind his improved on-court play, Marshall praised the NBA star’s dedication to taking care of his mind in addition to his body.
“We talked about his struggles throughout the year at times,” Marshall told co-host Nick Wright. “Now look, we keep saying that sport is 80% mental, so when are we going to double down on training our mind and making sure we are there mentally? We don’t do it enough as players. So when you look at what Paul George is doing, it’s phenomenal. So you’ve got to respect it.”
However, the six-time Pro Bowl receiver quickly pivoted the conversation to a recent one he had with Hardman about mental training — or lack thereof.
“Look, I had Mecole here, the wide receiver for the Chiefs, yesterday, and I’m looking at him like, ‘Buddy, you haven’t once came in here and did any recovery stuff or did any of the mindset training that we do here.’ You are fast, you can catch the ball, your routes are amazing. But if you want to go from good to great, you have to train here,” Marshall said pointing to his head.
Tyreek Hill Discussed Hardman’s Mindset Last Offseason
While Marshall didn’t immediately make clear where he had recently met up with the Chiefs wideout, one possible location could’ve been the headquarters of House of Athlete, Marshall’s training and wellness company.
According to the brand’s website, House of Athlete takes a holistic approach to training which “focuses on the whole person plus the health of the body and mind.”
Beginning this week, HOUSE OF ATHLETE: GOING PRO chronicles the demanding journey of NFL prospects.
Led by @BMarshall & other NFL greats, this six-part docuseries goes beyond the sidelines on the road to the NFL Draft.
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— FOX Sports PR (@FOXSportsPR) March 23, 2021
Having just turned 23 years old on March 12, Hardman seemingly still has plenty of untapped potential to unlock in year three. Prior to last season, Tyreek Hill also referenced his teammate’s mindset while discussing Hardman’s ceiling with the media, noting that he believes the Georgia product could crack the 1,000-yard mark annually with the right focus and training.
“Well, I think Mecole is going to continue to be a heck of a player,” Hill said, via Arrowhead Pride. “But it’s all about mindset. I feel like if he continues to do what he has been doing in the past and works his butt off, he’s going to be amazing. … There is no ceiling for this kid. I feel like he’s definitely a 1,000-yard receiver every year — with the targets, obviously. He’s just got to continue to work. He’s got to be different. He’s got to find something to be different at every year. It just can’t be speed.”
Chris Licata is an NFL contributor covering the Kansas City Chiefs from enemy territory in Denver, Colorado. Follow him on Twitter @Chris__Licata or join the Heavy on Chiefs Facebook community for the latest out of Chiefs Kingdom!