A projected second-round pick, Mississauga’s Brent Urban hopes to be the 26th Canadian ever selected in the NFL Draft.
The former Mississauga Lorne Park Spartan (and Mississauga Reps AAA hockey player) is one of the top-ranked defensive ends in North America.
According to Lombardilive.com writer Dan Dahlken (part of SI.com), NFL Draft scout Tony Pauline from Draft Insider, ranks Urban as his third best defensive end in this year’s draft and an early second-round pick on draft day.
A total of twenty five Canadians have been selected in modern NFL drafts.
La Salle Ontario’s Luke Willson was the only Canadian selected in the 2013 NFL draft (5th round, Seattle).
In 2012 a record four players from Canada were selected.
Two Canadians were selected in each of the 2011, 2009, 2005, 2003, 1992 and 1986 drafts.
The following is an excerpt from an interview Dahlken conducted with Urban, published on March 14 http://lombardiave.com/2014/03/14/nfl-draft-qa-virginia-defensive-lineman-brent-urban/ :
Q. First, tell us a little bit about your background. Where did you grow up, and what led you to Virginia?
BU: I grew up in the outskirts of Toronto, Ontario in Canada. Growing up, I watched a lot of football. There wasn’t too much football in my life before high school. When high school started, my dad and I drove around throughout the States and went to a bunch of football camps, which ended up getting me noticed. I got scholarship offers from that. Virginia was the first school to offer me. I thought I fit in well with their 3-4 defense with Coach Al Groh, and the academics at Virginia were great as well. It just seemed like a good fit overall.
Q. How did you end up playing on the defensive line?
BU: When I initially started playing football in high school, I played both tight end and defensive end. I continued to develop as a defensive end as I progressed through high school, and playing on defense just seemed like a natural fit for me. On defense, I like just getting after the ball and not having to worry about catching the ball or anything like that. Defense fits my personality well.
Q. I heard you impressed some people at the Senior Bowl in late January. What was that week like for you, and what were you able to show scouts about your game?
BU: The Senior Bowl week went well, but I had to leave early because of an injury (ankle). But for the days I was there, the first few practices I thought I was playing well against the run, pushing guys back. I thought I showed a lot of versatility playing other positions, like the 4-3 end. That’s what they had me slotted as there. On pass rush I was playing both the three-technique and five-technique. I think overall I really showed my versatility and that I’m also a good physical run stopper.
Q. What do the next few months look like for you as you prepare for the draft in May? Any specific parts of your game you’d like to work on improving?
BU: I’m just trying to get better in every aspect. I’m lifting heavily. I’m doing a lot of rehab on the injury I had. It’s just really getting ready for rookie camps. Right now, just getting into football shape is my main focus.
Q. Because of the injury, you weren’t able to do a lot of the drills at the Combine, but you were still able to attend. What was the experience like for you?
BU: Even though I didn’t workout, I was able to do interviews with teams at the Combine. I probably won’t be ready to workout at my pro day either, unfortunately. My next thing to focus on is rookie camp after the draft and making sure I’m physically ready for that.
Q. Were you able to talk with quite a few teams at the Combine?
BU: Yeah, combined with the Senior Bowl I have been able to talk to a lot of teams. I had a lot of formal interviews.
Q. For those of us who haven’t seen you play at Virginia, describe your game for us. What are your strengths as a defensive lineman?
BU: I have great length and I know how to use it to my advantage. I’m also athletic for my size. I bring heavy hands on contact and I’m a physical player. I’m a guy with a good first step and I get up the field. I’m disruptive whether it’s the three-technique position or the one-tech. I’m constantly pushing the line of scrimmage back on pass and getting into the backfield.
Q. What makes you unique as a lineman?
BU: My size makes me unique. Dan McCullers and me were the two tallest guys at the Combine at 6-foot-7. There aren’t too many guys as tall as me. I have a lean frame. I can gain or lose weight for whatever a team needs. I’ve played many positions on the line, so I’m versatile.
Q. Watching you play, you seem like a natural fit as a five-technique defensive end in a 3-4 defense. Where do you see yourself fitting in the NFL?
BU: Yeah, I agree that would be a great fit for me. Some teams also running a 4-3 have a bigger end too, so I could play end in a system like that as well. Initially, I was looking for colleges that ran a 3-4 because I thought I fit the prototype 3-4 DE being a 6-foot-6 and 300-pound guy. I think the five-technique would definitely be a great fit for me.
Q. You are versatile defensive lineman, so do you have a preference between playing on the line in a 3-4 or 4-3 at this point?
BU: I just want to play wherever. I’ve played every position on the D-line, whether it’s the 3-4 or 4-3. I’m fine with any of them. I think versatility lends its favor to me.
Q. I feel like you’re an underrated guy at the position going into the draft and could surprise some people at the next level. Where do you see yourself ranking among your peers and do you feel you’re underrated as a defensive lineman?
BU: I think I’m underrated a little bit for whatever reason, but I think teams like my size. There’s just not many players that have the physical attributes I do in this draft class. All the media and coverage may not pay much attention to it, but I think I’ll translate well to the next level and some teams may rate me favorably among my peers.
Q. A scout, who’s opinion I really trust, has you rated as a second-round guy. Is this where you expect to go in the draft, or do you not pay attention to that type of thing?
BU: I don’t want to pay too much attention to draft projections or rankings because on draft day it depends on so many factors, like who gets taken and which team likes you. You can’t really expect or predict what will happen. I’d love to just get drafted anywhere to be honest. If I had to pick a round, I’d say around the second round is where I see myself, but I try not to pay too much attention to projections. It’s in the decision makers’ hands. I don’t want to have a set expectation of where I think I’ll be drafted, I just want to be drafted and start my career in the NFL.
Q. Tell us a little bit more about yourself. Who have been the most influential people in your life and have helped you get to this point?
BU: My dad has been the most influential person in my life. I go to him a lot for advice, and he’s always calling and checking up on me even though I don’t really live near him anymore. He’s helped me through all my big decisions and through all the highs and lows. He’s been a rock for me.
Q. What have been some of the major challenges for you to reach this point?
BU: First coming in as a Canadian, I didn’t have the football IQ as the guys grew up playing football. I had to accelerate my learning pace when I first came in. That was a big setback for me. Also, I had to deal with a lot of different coaching staffs early on in my football career, so I had to continually adapt the changes we had.
Q. If you weren’t going to play professional football, what would you be doing with your life?
BU: To be honest, I don’t really know. Sports have always been a big part of my life. Football is what I’m focusing on right now, so I can’t picture doing anything else.
Q. When you’re away from football, what do you like to do in your free time?
BU: I like to listen to a lot of music. I listen to pretty much everything from classic rock to rap. My favorite band is the Allman Brothers. I also play a little guitar and I like to watch movies. I really like old spaghetti Westerns, like For a Few Dollars More and the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.
Urban’s career college stats:
2013 – 40 tackles, 11.5 TFL, sack, QB hurry, 9 PBUs, and a blocked kick
2012 – 20 tackles, 2.5 TFL, 2 sacks, QB hurry, 2 PBUs, FF, and a fumble return for a TD
2011 – 16 tackles, 3.5 TFL, sack, and a forced fumble
Another Canadian hoping to hear his name called at the 2014 NFL Draft is McGill OT Laurent Duvernay-Tardif. As Sun Media’s John Kryk points out in a recent story, Duvernay-Tardif already has one visit lined up in April with the Arizona Cardinals, and a dinner scheduled in Montreal next week with the Buffalo Bills.
Duvernay-Tardif is also a top-of-class medical student. After just one year of pre-med as a freshman, the 6’5, 320-pound lineman went straight into med school.
“Eventually I’m going to be a sports doctor. I’ll probably end up working for one of those teams down the road,” he told Kryk.