Why Mecole Hardman will be the next Georgia standout to star at NFL combine
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Mecole Hardman aims to be fastest man at 2019 NFL Combine
It’s not hyperbolic to say that Saturday will be the most important day of Mecole Hardman’s football career. The former Georgia wide receiver will participate in the combine drills in Indianapolis, and he’ll be looking to break the NFL’s record for fastest 40-yard dash. A strong or even record-breaking performance could do him a ton of favors by the time the NFL draft rolls around in late April.
The number he will be aiming to beat is 4.22. That number was set at the 2017 NFL Combine by Washington wide receiver John Ross. That number, which bested former Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson’s 4.27 mark, played a big reason in why Ross was taken with the No. 9 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Bookmakers think he’s got a pretty good shot to be the fastest man at the NFL combine. According to Sports Betting Dime, Hardman has the second best odds to run the fastest 40-time in Indianapolis at 11-to-2. Only Ohio State defensive back Kendall Sheffield has better odds at 5/1. In 2018, the fastest 40-yard dash time posted was 4.32, as three different players hit that number.
NFL.com draft expert Daniel Jeremiah expects Hardman to run in 4.38 range on Saturday morning.
“Hardman is one of my favorite players in the entire draft. I love his toughness, and his burst is undeniable,” Jeremiah said. “He runs by defenders in every Georgia game I studied. He was part of the 4×100 meters relay team at Georgia and I expect him to run in the 4.38-4.40 range at the combine.”
Should Hardman break, or come close to breaking, he could greatly improve his draft situation. Hardman was one of four Georgia players to forgo their senior season and leave early for the NFL draft. The Ringer’s Danny Kelly tabbed Hardman as someone who could significantly boost his draft position with a strong draft workout. Prior to the combine, Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller had Hardman being picked in the second round by the Detroit Lions.
Hardman would hardly be the first Georgia player to improve his draft stock at the combine. At the 2015 NFL Combine, Chris Conley drastically improved his draft stock, as he finished in the top 5 among wide receivers in bench press (18 reps) and 40-time (4.35). Conley also posted the best board jump (11 feet, 7 inches) by any wide receiver at the combine. He ended up being picked in the third round by the Kansas City Chiefs.
Last year, Nick Chubb used a strong combine performance to boost his draft stock. Despite having injury concerns from his time at Georgia, he ended up being taken 35th overall by the Cleveland Browns.
Hardman’s speed was showcased in a number of ways at Georgia, as he excelled as both a wide receiver and returner. It’s also worth pointing out that Hardman didn’t transition to wide receiver full time at Georgia until his sophomore year, as he also spent time as a defensive back. Hardman may be one of the most versatile prospect at the combine, in addition to being the fastest.
In his junior season, Hardman caught 34 passes for 532 yards and 7 touchdowns. He also averaged 20.0 yards per return on his 16 punt returns for the Bulldogs. He was one of three Georgia wide receivers working at the combine, as he joins Terry Godwin and Riley Ridley.
Hardman is one of nine Georgia players at the combine this week. This year’s NFL draft will take place in Nashville, Tenn. and will go from April 25 through the 27.
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