Posted on July 20, 2019, by Travis Pulver

The Kansas City Chiefs did not want to have to play without Tyreek Hill at any point during the 2019-20 season—and we now know that they will not have to. But they were prepared to after drafting Georgia wide receiver Mecole Hardman in the first round.

With his skill set and athleticism, fans were excited to have him, and it showed in his odds to win Offensive Rookie of the Year (OROY). After the draft, he was considered a top-five candidate with odds of +1000.

Via playitusa.com

But his success was contingent on one thing—a potential suspension for Tyreek Hill. With Hill out of the offense for 4-8 games (or whatever the NFL had deemed necessary), the general belief was that the Chiefs would have looked to Hardman to fill the void.

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While Sammy Watkins would have likely seen an increase in targets, Hardman would have filled Hill’s role in the run game and the return game without a doubt. But if Hardman lived up to his reputation, he would probably become the team’s No. 1 wide receiver in Hill’ absence, not Watkins.

It would have likely taken some time, of course, for Hardman to acclimate to the NFL game which could have been bad for the Chiefs offense. But since Hill is not going to be suspended, Hardman will not have to do any more than he and the Chiefs feel he is ready for—which does not bode well for his OROY chances.

His odds had already started to climb following the draft, anyway. As of May 1, they were +1200; by May 9, +1400, and as of July 10, they stood at +1600.

The rise was likely due to the lack of news about a suspension for Hill. When the extended recording of Hill talking to his wife was released, popular opinion started to swing in Hill’s direction. So, when the NFL announced that he would not be suspended, it didn’t come as too much of a surprise.

That is probably why Hardman’s odds only shifted a little, to +1800. But while he is no longer a top-five candidate (according to BetOnline.ag), he is still in the top seven:

•    Kyler Murray    +160

•    Darrell Henderson    +700

•    Dwayne Haskins    +700

•    Josh Jacobs        +800

•    David Montgomery        +1400

•    Deebo Samuel    +1600

•    Mecole Hardman    +1800

•    Miles Sander, K’Neal Harry, Parris Campbell        +2000      

Oddsmakers still see some value in Hardman’s candidacy, but it remains to be seen if he will get enough touches to make a good enough case for himself. When it comes to awards like OROY, opportunity is a crucial factor; but if a player doesn’t play enough, he can’t build a case to show he deserves the award.

As the starting running back for the Giants last season, Saquon Barkley certainly got the opportunity with 351 touches (261 carries and 91 receptions). The year before Alvin Kamara didn’t do enough just in the run game (120 carries for 728 yards and eight touchdowns). But when combined with his 81 receptions for 826 yards and five more touchdowns, he had a pretty compelling case.

However, with Hill not getting suspended, the Chiefs may not use him as much as he needs to be used to be a serious candidate. But when looking at the other top candidates the same could be said for Darrell Henderson, Dwayne Haskins, David Montgomery, and Deebo Samuel.

So, unless you want to roll with the favorite and bet on Murray, going with Hardman still has value.      

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