The Kansas City Chiefs will be counting on third-year wideout Mecole Hardman to take a step forward in his development in 2021 as the team looks to replace Sammy Watkins’ production. To do that, the 23-year-old will rely on his 4.33-second speed and improved route running, which he showed off in a recent workout video on Twitter.
However, another NFL speedster, Henry Ruggs of the Las Vegas Raiders, took exception to the social media love Hardman was receiving after the video was picked up by B/R Gridiron on Tuesday, May 18. Hardman’s AFC West foe, seemingly unprompted, responded by writing, “Word on the street is @MecoleHardman4 thinks he can top my 40? You realize 4.27 > 4.33 right? #ad.”
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Challenge Issued: ‘We Can Always Hit the Dirt and See What’s Up’
No stranger to challengers wanting to race him, it didn’t take long for Hardman to clap back at the Raiders’ first-round draft pick, who clocked an even quicker 4.27-second 40-yard dash at the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine, tops among his position group.
“The streets are talking, but we can always hit the dirt and see what’s up…#ad,” replied Hardman.
If Hardman is indeed serious, it sounds like another footrace may be coming to a field near you. For comparison, Hardman put his wheels to the test last August against teammate Tyreek Hill, widely considered the fastest player in the NFL, and came up short in an indoor race against the three-time All-Pro.
One month prior, Hill, who ran a 4.29-second 40-yard dash at his West Alabama pro day in 2016, was clocked at a 4.37 during a viral July 2020 race against then-46-year-old Hall of Famer Terrell Owens.
Other NFL Stars Want in on the Action
Upon seeing the social media buzz between the AFC West rivals, at least two other household NFL names made it known that they’re interested in joining in on the fun.
First among them was Minnesota Vikings Pro Bowl receiver Justin Jefferson, who took the league by storm as a rookie in 2020 with 1,400 yards and seven touchdowns on 88 receptions.
The looming footrace may also see some representation from the other side of the ball after Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Devin White chimed in, “Y’all talking horsepower?”
Jefferson and White, while still possessing elite quickness at their positions, may wind up a step or two behind the pack based on their respective 4.43 and 4.42-second times during their NFL Combine showings.
Update: All four players will officially face off in race sponsored by Bounty on Thursday, May 20.
Whether Hardman, Ruggs or another challenger finishes first, the Chiefs Pro Bowl wideout finds himself in a good spot heading into the regular season, albeit in a potential make-or-break year. After earning less than half of the target share (62) last season than Hill (135) and tight end Travis Kelce (145), Hardman has a prime opportunity to close the gap as Patrick Mahomes‘ clear-cut third option in the passing game.
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!