The Chicago Bears signed S Brandon Hardin to a four-year contract today and now have the entire 2012 Bears draft class under contract. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, yet it's reportedly worth $2.7 million.
The Bears selected Hardin in the third round (79th overall pick) of the 2012 NFL Draft out of Oregon State. The 6-2, 222 pounder started 15 of 38 games played for the Beavers (2007-11), registering 105 tackles (73 solo), three TFLs, three forced fumbles, one interception and seven passes defended. He was a two-time Pac-10 all-academic selection but missed his entire senior season due to a shoulder injury.
Hardin played cornerback in college but is being moved to safety for the Bears.
S Brandon Hardin
Jerry Lai/US Presswire
"Mentally, [the position change] is a little difficult," Hardin said during rookie mincamp this weekend. "Physically, though, I have all the physical aspects to be a good safety. Now it's just learning a new position, taking in the coaching, and learning the different schemes and coverages."
This weekend, he spent most of his time at free safety, which was in contrast to GM Phil Emery's statement during the draft.
"We'll line him up at strong safety," Emery said shortly after drafting Hardin. "I have no worry about this guy. He will come down in the box and strike people."
Despite playing mostly the deep safety spot, Hardin showed good recognition in Chicago's Cover 2 during minicamp, while also showing well on special teams.
"There's a guy, Hardin. He really loves special teams," said Dave Toub, Bears special teams coordinator. "He was a gunner on their punt team. Starting gunner. The first guy down the field on kickoffs; first guy down on punts. Made a lot of tackles. He jumps out to you on special teams. We're not going to have to do a lot as far as changing his mindset to play special teams. He's already there. We're really happy to have him. Great speed, good size and he's got a great attitude."
Coaches this weekend touted Hardin's toughness and willingness to learn, two crucial aspects in regard to his potential on this defense.
"In this system, the No. 1 thing the Bears pride themselves on is the toughness," Hardin said. "I know, being a physical safety, whether it's coming down hitting, being in the box, making secure tackles, and takeaways. I'm definitely ready for that. Like I said, the mental aspect, there's going to be a learning curve there. But I do have to learn as fast as I can if I want to play."
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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.