Brandon Hardin to the Bears: Chicago Adds Secondary Depth in Third Round

Luke CarltonContributor IIIApril 27, 2012

BOISE, ID - SEPTEMBER 25:  Wide receiver Titus Young #1 of the Boise State Broncos runs the ball against cornerback Brandon Hardin #17 of the Oregon State Beavers at Bronco Stadium on September 25, 2010 in Boise, Idaho.  (Photo by Otto Kitsinger III/Getty Images)
Otto Kitsinger III/Getty Images

With the 79th pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, the Chicago Bears overlooked offensive line and tight end issues to take Brandon Hardin from Oregon State.

Hardin didn't play his final year at Oregon State due to a shoulder injury before the season, though he can play both safety and cornerback, as well as contributing on special teams.

The selection may come as a surprise to some as the coaching staff seemed very comfortable going forward with Major Wright and Chris Conte as the starting safeties with the very underrated Craig Steltz backing them up.

Hardin has great athleticism with a background in sprinting and combines that with great physicality and instincts to find his way to the ball often.

The Bears had trouble finding a starting safety combination last year but ultimately settled on rookie Chris Conte and Florida product Major Wright. However, Lovie Smith and Phil Emery obviously still feel there is room for improvement in the secondary,.

The Bears must see Hardin's athletic ability and good coverage skills as a great way to shut down the good tight ends the NFC North has to offer, like Jermichael Finley, Kyle Rudolph and Brandon Pettigrew.

The Bears did re-sign Tim Jennings and also signed Kelvin Hayden and Jonathan Wilhite in free agency to bolster their cornerback situation which should discount the idea of Hardin being drafted to play cornerback.

But the loss of Corey Graham leaves a Pro Bowl sized hole in the special teams, something Hardin excelled at during his time at Oregon State

The selection means the Bears have now draft Oregon State Beavers in two consecutive drafts, with Brandon Hardin joining his former team mate Stephen Paea in the Windy City.

This is the Eighth consecutive drafts in which Chicago has felt they have needed to add a Safety.

In 2005, there was Chris Harris.

In 2006, there was Danieal Manning.

In 2007, there was Kevin Payne.

In 2008, there was Craig Steltz.

In 2009, there was Al Afalava.

In 2010, there was Major Wright.

In 2011, there was Chris Conte.

Now in 2012, the Bears draft yet another safety in Brandon Harkin.

And if that doesn't bring you optimism about the newest Chicago Bear, I don't know what will.