Hardin (6-3, 219) played cornerback in college yet will play strong safety for the Bears. He lacks experience, having started just 15 games in college. He missed his entire senior season due to a fractured shoulder.
S Brandon Hardin
Rick Scuteri/US Presswire
Because of the injury, Hardin fell off the radar of many NFL teams. He wasn't invited to the NFL Scouting Combine. Yet at his pro day, Hardin put on a show. He was clocked at 4.38 seconds in the 40-yard dash, and registered a 35.5-inch vertical jump and a 10-4 broad jump. He also had 24 bench press reps – very good for a DB.
His injury history is worrisome but it's hard to ignore a defensive back that runs in the 4.3 range. Athletically, he is top tier but having only started 15 games, it's hard to project what he can accomplish in the pros.
Given his blend of size and speed, it's likely the Bears will give Hardin an opportunity to challenge Major Wright for the starting strong safety spot in 2012.
Hardin is also a standout special teams player. He was a gunner on punt coverage who dominated in that role in college.
GM Phil Emery scouted Hardin twice in person in 2010. The Bears sent two defensive backs coaches to work him out this offseason and brought him in for visit at Halas Hall. Emery said the team checked out his shoulder and they do not have any worries about his health going forward.
For his career, Hardin has 105 tackles, three for loss, three forced fumbles, seven passes defended and one interception.
Hardin is the third straight safety the Bears have taken in the third round -- Wright in 2010 and Chris Conte in 2011 -- and the 10th safety in the past 11 Chicago drafts.
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Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of Bear Report magazine and BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.