- The Bears will play third-round pick Brandon Hardin at strong safety, which will necessitate a position switch from cornerback, but they believe his physical traits project well to the new spot. "It's concerning that we're moving him into a projection area," Emery said. "(But it's) not a concern because of his physical nature, his toughness. He will strike you. He's not afraid of contact. "Sometimes you worry a little bit about that with corners. They're kind of skill/finesse guys. What kind of tackler will they be if you move them to safety? I have no worry about this guy. He will come down in the box and strike people." - The Sports Xchange
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Hardin grew up in Hawaii, and was a three-year letterman playing for former Oregon State graduate assistant coach Kanani Souza. His background as a sprinter and jumper in track and field is also evident in his athleticism.
Hardin showed his toughness by playing the majority of his redshirt freshman season with a case on his broken hand and a sprained wrist on the other arm. He earned a more significant role on defense in 2009, including three starts.
Hardin took over a starting cornerback job as a junior, while also sharing the team lead with 12 special teams tackles. Looking to build on that progress in 2011, Hardin suffered a broken shoulder during fall camp and underwent season-ending surgery.
Considered a fringe draft prospect, Hardin's stock began to rise with a strong showing at the East-West Shrine Game in January - the first time scouts had a chance to see him on the field since the 2010 season. He then ran a 4.36 and 4.40-second 40-yard dash and bench pressed 225 pounds 24 times at his pro day. That's three more than he was able to do before a shoulder injury. He also had a 35 1/2-inch vertical leap and a 10-4 broad jump.
"The scouts said it went well," Hardin said. "I blew it up with the times. They were impressed. I missed all last season and didn't get an (NFL Scouting) Combine invite. This was my chance to turn some heads that I deserved to be in the combine.
"I showed I have speed and strength and versatility," Hardin said. "(The scouts) knew I was fast, but this was the first time I had a really solid time (recorded). And I proved the shoulder is healthy with the bench."
A cornerback in college, Hardin likely projects best to free safety in the NFL.
"What I've been told, I have the potential to move myself up (in the draft)," Hardin said. "I just need my foot in the door and I'll impress them."
Positives: Possesses intriguing upside. Combines prototypical size, speed and explosiveness for the free safety position and could remain at cornerback in a press-man scheme. Excellent straight-line speed (officially recorded at 4.44, 4.43 at his March 16 Pro Day), as well as impressive explosiveness (10'4" broad jump, 35.5" vertical) and strength (24 reps). Physical. Provides a physical jolt to receivers and shows surprisingly loose hips and acceleration to turn and run with them. Aggressive, reliable open-field tackler with strong, active hands to rip at the ball. Forced three fumbles in 2010... Reads run aggressively and attacks the action. Excellent special teams defender. Tied for the team-lead with 12 special teams tackles in 2010 and led the Beavers with 11 in 2009. Also blocked an extra point in 2010 against rival Oregon... Despite missing his entire senior season for Oregon State, returned to participate in the East-West Shrine Game and helped his cause with an impressive effort there.
Negatives: Struggled with durability over his career. Missed the entire 2011 season with a broken shoulder and played most of the 2008 season with a broken left hand and a sprained right wrist... Doesn't play up to his timed speed. Possesses good change-of-direction skills for a player of his size, but only above-average mobility overall. Vulnerable to quicker receivers and is a step slow to close. Too often allows the catch to occur before making the tackle. Largely unknown ball skills. Has just one career interception and seven passes broken up... Projects best as a free safety but all 38 career appearances (including 15 starts) came at cornerback...