Brandon Hardin became the first Oregon St. player to be taken in the 2012 NFL draft, when the Chicago Bears selected the 6'3", 217 lb. defensive back and special teams gunner in the third round Friday night. Hardin was the 16th pick of the 3rd round, and the 79th player taken overall.
"I was definitely surprised," Hardin said from his home in Honolulu. "I knew I had the potential to go in the third round, but at the same time I didn't want to get my hopes up. I wasn't going to worry if I wasn't chosen today, but this did take me by surprise. We had to move up the family celebration a day."
Hardin missed the 2011 season, after suffering a shoulder injury, and as a result, was projected to probably be a 4th round pick. But his athleticism and a strong junior campaign was not lost on pro scouts. Hardin had 105 tackles, 4 forced fumbles, and an interception in his Oregon St. career.
Hardin has played corner back throughout his career to date, but NFL teams feel his size and speed make him better suited to play safety at the next level. Hardin posted a 4.38 time in the 40 in workouts for pro scouts.
Hardin also rejoins former teammate Stephen Paea, who was selected by Chicago last year.
"I'm looking forward to seeing him again," Hardin said of Paea. "We share the Polynesian culture, so that will be good to have there."
Hardin was 1 of 10 Pac-12 players selected in the 2nd and 3rd rounds of the NFL draft, after 4 were taken in yesterday's first round.
The Indianapolis Colts, who selected Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck with the draft's 1st pick on Thursday, brought along Luck's favorite target from his days with the Cardinal, when they selected TE Coby Fleener with the 2nd pick of the second round.
Stanford OT Jonathan Martin became the 4th member of the Cardinal to be selected when the Miami Dolphins took him with the 10th pick of the 2nd round.
California, who had had a player selected in the first round each of the last 2 years, saw that streak come to an end, but still sent 2 players to the NFL early in the second round. The Cleveland Browns took OT Mitchell Schwartz with the 5th pick, and the Philadelphia Eagles selected ILB Mychal Kendricks with the 14th pick.
The Golden Bears' punter Bryan Anger went in the third round, when the Jacksonville Jaguars took him with the 7th pick of the round.
Arizona St. quarterback Brock Osweiler became the second Pac-12 QB taken when the Denver Broncos took the former Sun Devil to become Peyton Manning's backup, and possibly heir apparent, with the 25th pick of the second round.
Oregon RB LaMichael James became the first player from the northwest portion of the Pac-12 taken, going to the San Francisco 49ers with the 29th pick of the second round.
Arizona QB Nick Foles was the third Pac-12 player from that position taken, when the Philadelphia Eagles selected him with the 25th pick of the third round. And Utah OT Tony Bergstorm rounded out the third round, going to the Oakland Raiders.
One other player with northwest ties was selected when Boise St. DE Tyrone Crawford became the third Bronco taken, going to the Dallas Cowboys with the 18th pick of the third round.
The 4th thru 7th rounds of the draft will unfold during the course of the day Saturday.