The Chiefs’ offense is going to be entertaining for folks in Kansas City and around the league.

The Chiefs were already a scary and unpredictable team on offense. Adding a dynamic tight end to their offense was a stroke of genius.

When you think of the Kansas City Chiefs today, it’s hard to focus on anything other than their explosive offense. Andy Reid is one of the best offensive specialists on the field. Patrick Mahomes can throw a deep bomb with a flick of his wrist. That unit includes players like Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill, and during the 2021 offseason, general manager Brett Veach rebuilt the offensive line in ruthless fashion. How can you not like it?

But if you can ignore all these undeniable benefits, there is a potential weakness. The Chiefs could go into training camp with Mekol Hardman as their No. 2 receiver, which could be a pretty risky move given football’s reputation as a sport with weak links.

The Kansas City Chiefs have spent the season improving their offensive line with thewide receiver position .

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At the highest level of professional football, the conventional wisdom is that victories and defeats take place in the trenches. Judging by the 2021 offseason, the Chiefs’ front office has made this concept their own.

After their own offensive line broke down in Super Bowl 55, Kansas City wanted to make sure that didn’t happen again. The club signed Joe Tooney from the New England Patriots, brought Kyle Long out of retirement and traded for Orlando Brown Jr. Combine that with the return of Laurent DuVernay-Tardif and draft picks Creed Humphrey and Trey Smith, and that means Patrick Mahomes should be safe this season.

While it makes perfect sense for Veach to focus on the offensive line – and frankly, it’s impressive to see a general manager pick an area for improvement and get to work – this rebuild has come at the expense of another position group: the receivers.

Sammy Watkins left KC in the 2021 free season. While you could argue that the wideout was too inconsistent to be a real loss, his departure moves everyone higher on the depth chart. With no other acquisitions on the season than fifth-round pick Cornell Powell, the Chiefs are poised to start the season with Mekol Hardman as their No. 2 receiver. Nate Taylor of The Athletic reports that the third-year receiver will likely take over Watkins’ old role, while Byron Pringle and Demarcus Robinson will battle for the third and fourth spots.

Mekol Hardman has talent, but is a risky number two with weak connections

Kansas City Chiefs receiver Mecole Hardman catches a pass. | Photo: Todd Olszewski/Getty Images

Before we go any further, it’s worth noting that having Mecol Hardman as the second receiver when Hill and Kelce are on the roster is the definition of a champagne problem. But for a team vying for the Lombardi trophy, even the slightest weakness can mean the difference between a championship and just a conference title.

As any Chiefs fan can attest, Hardman is an explosive player with unmatched athletic ability. While you would think that makes him the perfect complement to Hill – covering two fast players, especially with the current pass interference rules, is a challenge for any defense – the receiver may not take the next step. His second NFL campaign showed no real improvement over his rookie campaign; worse, his drop-off rate went from 2.4 percent to 12.9 percent.

Again, it’s easy to say that the difficulties of receiver number two don’t matter really . Kelce and Hill are the de facto first and second options for the Chiefs, moving Hardman slightly down the rankings. However, his position on the depth chart can be problematic.

In general, football is considered a sport of weak links, meaning that a team (or in this case, a unit) is only as strong as its weakest member. For the Chiefs’ main offensive group, this puts Hardman in the spotlight. It’s easy to say that he won’t be a factor given the overall strength of his teammates, but no team wants to go into the season with a potentially unreliable goalie who gets regular playing time. Now that the defenders know what Kelce and Hill are capable of, they will challenge anyone to beat them, and Hardman will be in the spotlight. If he loses nearly 13% of his targets in such a case, that would be a real disaster.

There are a few x-factors that could help Mecola Hardman, although.

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Now that we’ve spent some time looking at the potential problems with Hardman as a second receiver, it’s worth noting that there are a number of potential factors that can reduce the risks.

First, it’s possible that the receiver is just getting better. He only started playing catcher in college, and mastering Andy Reid’s playbook can be a challenge for even the most experienced player. It’s also worth noting that Kansas City’s offseason workouts say Hardman has taken a step forward and is looking for a role in 2021, according to Tyrann Mathieu.

In addition to his own upgrades, it’s also worth remembering that Hardman will be getting passes from Patrick Mahomes. Without diving too far down the rabbit hole between Mahomes and Tom Brady, TB12 has made a habit of turning anonymous receivers into real threats. We know the Chiefs signal-caller has the talent and improvisational ability to get the ball exactly where he wants it. That means Hardman can simplify his game and focus on pass routes and, perhaps more importantly, defending the ball when it arrives.

Again, the Chiefs are certainly a talented team, and they have what it takes to reach the Super Bowl again. But when you’re fighting to become the best team in the entire NFL, any potential weakness could sway you. Right now, winning the division and getting promoted to the AFC Championship Game won’t excite many people in Kansas City. That’s where Mecol Hardman comes in. If he struggles in 2021, he could be the weak link blocking an explosive offense; if he gets his act together, he’ll keep opponents’ defenses at bay and make KC even more dangerous.

Right now, the NFL just has to hold its breath and wait to see which version of the receiver will be released.

Statistics provided by Pro-Football-Reference

COMPARED TO: Patrick Mahomes should call Larry Fitzgerald and go ring hunting together.

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