Here we are again with the next installment of our ongoing Monday Night rookies series. Each week, we highlight a rookie from the Monday Night Football matchup, take a brief look into some of his select stats, and explain how these grades are determined. Following the NFC West matchup last weekend, NFL Week 11 features the Monday night meeting of the Kansas City Chiefs and the Los Angeles Chargers at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City kicking off at 8:15 PM ET. One stand out rookie in tonight’s MNF game is Kansas City wide receiver Mecole Hardman, who has had several elite PFN OSM grades so far this year. Hardman currently leads the league in multiple stat categories and makes a great candidate for our Monday Night rookies entry this week.
Hardman began his college career as wide receiver for the Georgia Bulldogs in 2016. Over the next three seasons, Hardman would bring in 60 receptions for 961 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. He was also on the field as a return specialist during this time and had 39 punt returns for 592 yards and a touchdown. Hardman was selected in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft by the Kansas City Chiefs as the 56th overall pick.
PFN OSM trends
We use Pro Football Network’s OSM system to determine the individual on-field performance of offensive players each week. Hardman has a current Offensive Share Metric grade of 45.08 overall for the 2019 season. Any grade north of 40.00 is considered elite on the OSM grading scale. Hardman’s OSM grade also ranks him as WR01 among all NFL receivers this year. The only other receivers in the league with an overall elite OSM grade this year are Tyler Lockett and Micheal Thomas.
It’s not just the OSM charts that Hardman is sitting atop of. Hardman also claims the top rank in two separate Next-Gen stat categories. He currently leads the league in both the YAC/R and SEP categories. He is averaging 13 yards after reception with his completed targets. He also is maintaining an average separation of 4.5 yards.
YAC/R (yards after catch/reception) is the average number of yards that the receiver is able to pick up after making his catch. Let’s take a look at a clip from NFL Week 3 for an example of good YAC. Here you will see Hardman find a seam in the Ravens’ zone defense. He’s able to bring in Patrick Mahomes’ pass and take it 88 yards untouched for a touchdown. Hardman finished this game with an impressive OSM grade of 45.23 and a YAC average of 36.1 yards which was first in the league that week.
Hardman’s SEP (average separation) is also the current best in the League. For this stat, Next-Gen focuses on the average distance between the receiver and the nearest defender at the time of the catch. For an example of this, we take a look at NFL Week 2. In this clip, you will see Hardman use his speed to outrun two Oakland defenders and create space for himself to bring in the touchdown grab. Putting up yet another elite performance, Hardman would end the day here with an OSM grade of 43.41 and an average SEP of 5.7 yards which was once again best in the league that week.
Mecole Hardman’s PFN OSM grades have been stellar so far this year. Sitting atop multiple charts in your rookie year is about as good as you could ask for. And with stats like these, you would expect some offensive points to come along with it. Hardman is the 11th ranked receiver this year for total number of touchdown receptions with five TDs so far.
So with all of these stats, why is Mecole Hardman a name that you’re probably not entirely familiar with? With the span of talent that Kansas City has available to them, Hardman just has too many Chiefs players ahead of him on the depth chart. Over the last four games, Mecole has only been targeted six times. Will coach Andy Reid and the Chiefs be able to lean more on Hardman this week in a favorable matchup against the Chargers? Or will this be another quiet but productive game for the breakout receiver? With Kansas City’s growing injury report, including Chiefs defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah, the offensive could use the extra hands this week.
Be sure to check back in with us here next week for our Week 12 Monday Night Rookies highlight for the Ravens at Rams. If you have a favorite rookie that you would like us to highlight, let us know on Twitter.