Continuing to examine the 2012 Chicago Bears draft picks and where they fit into plans we come to rookie safety Brandon Hardin.
Hardin was the eighth safety drafted since Lovie Smith became the head coach. He is proverbial big, fast and strong even more so than most safeties.
The problem with Hardin is he played corner his entire career at Oregon State. Hardin has never played safety, has never been an in the box defender who steps up to make tackles in the run game.
This job is extremely important in the Bears one-gap down hill attacking style of defense. Hardin has to be able to fill a gap, break down and make a tackle in the open field.
He showed some ability in Corvalis to make tackles and play physical in run support, but at the NFL level as a safety that job is entirely different.
Can Hardin step up and fill that role in the Bears' defense?
Hardin is learning the free safety position behind Chris Conte, which likely means he won't start as a rookie, and why should he?
There's a backlash against third year safety Major Wright because of his issues in coverage and his inability to stay healthy. Wright however can defend the run despite the overall impression against him.
Wright is remembered for two plays, and those plays have in turn defined his career, the blown coverage against the Saints, and the bad angle against LeSean McCoy on the touchdown.
He will start at strong safety while Hardin will develop as a free safety until he can prove he can be an NFL level player.
The thought here is Hardin need to learn and develop, specifically because he didn't play a single game of football in 2011. Hardin missed the entire season with broken shoulder.
So his purpose should be to learn not to come in and make an impact. The true impact is in the future and if he happens to push for playing as a starter, all the better.
What is becoming an even stronger possibility is seeing the Bears adding a veteran safety. That safety who has been in the league for five or so years who can come in and help develop the younger players.
The task before Hardin is tall, and to expect him to come in and start as a rookie and play at a high level without making a lot of mistakes is far too much pressure on him.
Hardin was drafted in the third round as a project, he shouldn't project to make an immediate impact.
At 6-foot-3 217-pounds with 4.38 40-yard dash speed Hardin's primary job with the Bears will be to match up with TEs, specifically Jermichael Finley.