Safety Brandon Hardin is playing where he didn't play in college, and where he didn't figure to play initially for the Bears.

Yet the rookie safety from Oregon State is adapting quickly and has earned daily praise from coaches in camp for his transition from college cornerback to NFL free safety

"Overally it was kind of surprising to me, too, because I thought I'd be all over the place," the third-round pick said. "But I really do feel comfortable in this system and being back at safety I do feel comfortable."

At 6-foot-3, 217 pounds, he had the build of a strong safety and was talked about immediately after the draft as a possible future starter. However, defensive backs coach Jon Hoke said the way the team is handling Hardin is nothing new.

"Usually when we bring a new guy in here since I’ve been here all the new guys have started at free," he said. "It’s a little bit of an easier transition for them.

"Obviously there are components of free and strong in the free safety position. But from a down-to-down base it’s easier to transition them into free and then move them over to strong."

It puts Hardin on the depth chart behind Chris Conte, who remains one of the younger players coaches see the most promise in for the future. So eventually, Hardin may need to switch to the spot where Major Wright plays -- strong side.

At camp, all four top safeties get plenty of work with the first team and it's probably a good thing since the Bears have made 56 changes at starting safety since Lovie Smith became coach.

"Ultimately, I think I’m doing well so far," Hardin said. "I’m reacting really well, but now it’s trying to refine some of those things."

Follow Bears reporter Gene Chamberlain on Twitter @CBSSportsNFLCHI.