With the 2014 NFL Draft only a few months away, we reached out to some of the draft prospects we believe the Green Bay Packers could target in May. This week’s Q&A series has been full of talented defensive prospects, but today, we hear from one of the top 3-4 defensive ends in this year’s draft class, Virginia’s Brent Urban.
Urban may not be a household name quite yet. You certainly don’t hear his name thrown around often in mainstream draft media coverage. However, one of the more notable NFL Draft scouts out there, 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.
Pauline even rates Urban higher than Notre Dame’s Stephon Tuitt, Stanford’s Trent Murphy, Oregon State’s Scott Crichton, and plenty of other notable defensive lineman prospects. Pauline has become a scout I absolutely trust and have gone to for insight on various prospects coming out of college.
With Pauline putting the buzz in my ear about Urban, I searched for scouting reports and film on the Virginia defensive lineman. A quick glance at the Toronto native shows a 6-foot-7 and 295-pound defensive lineman who is versatile enough to play both end in a 3-4 or in either tackle spots in a 4-3.
Urban has played in both schemes for the Cavaliers and excelled in both. Urban is an excellent hold-the-point-of-attack defensive lineman who can also get tremendous push upfield as an interior rusher.
Urban’s college stats may not jump out at you. In his three-year career at Virginia, he only recorded four sacks and a handful of quarterback hurries. But to fully appreciate Urban’s game you have to look beyond the stat sheet and see what the film says.
A full evaluation of Urban’s college tape will show you that the former Cavalier dominates at the point of attack, is a stonewall against the run, and pushes the pocket with upfield pressure. These attributes often lead to successes for Urban’s teammates on the field, and this shows just how effective he can be as an anchor on the line.
Many draft analysts and scouts also project Urban as the ideal five-technique defensive end in the 3-4 because of his size, strength, and athleticism. These attributes make Urban an instant candidate for landing with the Packers come draft day.
Because I believe Urban is a prospect that seems to be a great fit for Green Bay in the draft, I reached out to him and had the privilege to speak with him over the phone last week.
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. How was your time at Virginia, and what were you able to learn from the experience?
BU: My time at Virginia was good. We had a couple of tough seasons, but I really think those lows helped me build my character and become a good team leader.
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. Were the Packers one of the teams you spoke with?
BU: Yeah, I talk to Green Bay’s defensive line coach (Mike Trgovac) and their defensive coordinator (Dom Capers). Between the Combine and Senior Bowl, they’re a team I’ve talked to numerous people. I believe I spoke with their GM (Ted Thompson) at the Senior Bowl.
Q. How did speaking with Green Bay’s staff go?
BU: I was a little nervous at first, but you get used to talking with teams. I was able to get comfortable and I think the interviews went really well.
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. The Packers will be looking to add defensive line talent in the draft this spring. How would you feel about playing in Green Bay?
BU: I’d love to play in Green Bay. I’ve watched defensive linemen like B.J. Raji and guys like that on the Packers. I think I’d fit in well there on their defensive front. It would be great to play up there, for sure. It’s a great organization with a lot of history. They’ve been a great team for a while.
Q. If the Packers drafted you, what kind of player and person would they be getting?
BU: As far as a player, what I mentioned before. As far as the type of person I am, I’m a humble guy that likes to just really focus on the game. I wouldn’t consider myself a big flashy player, but my focus has just been on getting better every day. I love this sport. I have a competitive edge to me that I want to be better than the next guy no matter what. I have the work ethic where I think I can achieve that.
Q. What could you bring to the Packers defense?
BU: I would bring good length and run-stopping ability. I’ll be pushing offensive tackles back and setting the edge as an end. I’d also be getting up the field and batting down passes at the line. A lot of things I did in my senior year.
Q. They do play a 3-4, so where do you see yourself fitting in this scheme?
BU: In a 3-4, I’d be a five-technique end, definitely. I think that’s where teams see myself fitting as far as what they’ve told me.
Q. When you get drafted this in May and begin your new career in the NFL, what will be some goals you will set for yourself in your first year?
BU: My goal is to make an impact right away. That’s what I’m training for right now to get physically and mentally ready for. I don’t want to be a guy who is labeled a “project” or someone who needs to develop further before I can play. I’d like to go in and play right away and help the team win as best I can.
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.
Q. Is there anything else you’d like Packers fans to know about you before we let you go?
BU: Not much other than I’d just love to play for the Packers with their great history. I think I’d fit in well and could play as a five-technique end in their 3-4 defense. Hopefully come draft day I’ll end up there.
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
Film on Brent Urban
Brent Urban against Pitt: 7 tackles, 4 TFL, .5 sack, pass breakup, and a QB hurry
Brent Urban against Virginia Tech: 7 tackles and 2 TFL
Watch more film on Brent Urban over at draftbreakdown.com.