Mecole Hardman was never at loss for words when afforded the opportunity to speak while playing for coach Kirby Smart at Georgia.
It appears that trend won’t change anytime soon, as evidenced by Hardman’s recent interview with TMZSports on YouTube.
Hardman let it be known he could be the player the Pittsburgh Steelers need to replaced departed All-Pro receiver Antonio Brown, who has signed with the Oakland Raiders.
The NFL draft takes place April 25-27 in Nashville, Tenn. The Steelers have the 20th overall pick, and then the 52nd overall (second round) and 66th overall (third round).
“I can be that guy,” Hardman said, reminded by the interviewer that Pittsburgh could look to replace Antonio Brown in the draft.
Hardman, who’s from Bowman, Ga., (population 862), and attended Elbert County High School, told TMZ he grew up a fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“My daddy was a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, so he had put me on them when Hines Ward, Troy Polamalu and all them were there,” Hardman said. “Big Ben (Roethlisberger) was just getting there, so like, I’ve been rocking with the Steelers for a minute.”
Pittsburgh does have bigger needs in the draft.
Some have targeted Hardman’s former Georgia football teammate, cornerback Deandre Baker, as tops on the Steelers’ wish list.
Hardman’s NFL draft stock, meanwhile, has been on the rise since the conclusion of the 2018 season.
Hardman had the most impressive NFL combine workout among the nine Bulldogs who were there earlier this month. His 4.33-second 40-yard dash ranked fifth-fastest among all the players in Indianapolis.
Georgia coach Kirby Smart, who didn’t know Hardman was turning pro until after the Sugar Bowl, heaped heavy praise on the departing junior.
“I still think he has great upside at the wide receiver position, so he’s a guy that’s going to flourish when he gets to that level,” Smart said on March 20. “I’m looking forward to seeing him do it, because he’s grown as a player for us, but he hasn’t even reached his full potential.”
Hardman had just 34 catches last season for 532 yards and 7 TDs in 2018. He would have likely doubled those numbers in 2019 with UGA losing WRs Riley Ridley and Terry Godwin, along with top tight end receiving threat Isaac Nauta.
Smart said when he talks to NFL teams about Hardman, he’s quick to let them know that he has only played the receiver position for two seasons.
“I usually bring it up pretty quick, to me it’s an important thing to understand that here’s a guy that only caught snaps in high school (as a QB), then only caught interceptions as a freshman (as a DB) and then he spends two years catching the ball and he’s done a really good job doing that,” Smart said.
“Especially in his pro days and his workouts,” Smart said. “That’s kinda the only thing that people could try to knock Mecole on (previously).
“He’s fast, he’s elusive, he’s a great returner, well what about his hands? Well all he’s done is catch every ball thrown to him for the last two months, and I’m excited to see what he does.”
Hardman said he’s looking forward to changing his parents’ life once drafted, “just trying to give back to my parents, they gave me so much growing up.”
That said, Hardman said his father “would definitely like it if the Steelers get me, for sure.”
Mecole Hardman draws u favorite play at Georgia