Brent Urban may have been the best defensive player on the Virginia Cavaliers this past year. The defensive tackle might be the most ordinary looking, really effective player in the upcoming NFL Draft. Urban made his fair share of splash plays for the Cavaliers, but he was not a sack artist and did most of his work relatively anonymously as part of a unit and freeing up teammates to make plays. The Canadian born athlete with experience in both basketball and hockey was an effective run stopper who could flow and make tackles down the line, out in space or in the backfield. For the average viewer, he could have a great game and go largely unnoticed.
Going to the NFL Draft, Urban projects as an early role player that has a lot of potential going forward. He does a nice job against the run because he plays with good pad level for the most part, takes advantage of leverage and really does a good job of using his hands to keep opponents out of his body. Urban is a great stack and shed player, but he is still incredibly raw when it comes to being a pass rusher and has to basically learn how to do it in the NFL. He looks like someone who can come in and be a role player and stop the run player out of the gate, but further physical development and learning to be an effective pass rusher could take time, but ultimately pay off in a big way. Urban projects as a fringe top 100 pick that could go in round 3 to an ambitious 3-4 team that likes his ability to fit into their scheme as an athletic 5-technique defensive end as part of a rotation, unless the undisclosed leg injury that caused him to miss 4 games proves to be a problem when medically checked at the combine.
Vitals & Build
Urban is listed at 6’7” 295lbs and has a pretty lean build for the position. He needs to get stronger but he maximizes the strength he has pretty consistently. Urban has pretty good speed and explosiveness going forward and with his hips facing the direction he wants to go, but has a difficult time making wholesale changes in direction. The big question for him is how much strength he is able to add. If he can continue adding muscle, filling out his frame and maintaining what he is already to do, he has the potential to be a better pro than collegiate player.
Snap Anticipation & First Step
Urban’s ability to anticipate the snap is good and the results are consistent. He is not someone who is really ever caught by surprise and occasionally will be in the opponent’s backfield before the opponent has realized what is happening.
Some of the credit for this seems to be in Urban’s stance. He has an outstanding stance which is always the same with a flat back and balance where he looks extremely comfortable. Urban is in great position to fire off of the ball, but he is not off balance where he is falling forward and jumping. He can afford to wait patiently, react quickly and make his move.
The first step for Urban is solid and is predictable in terms of what he is going to do, but how he executes it can vary. He is not afraid to step at the opponent, makes a quick jab step and starts to work up the field. Where Urban can run into problems is in how tall he gets out of his stance. It varies between being a good pad level and able to hit opponents with a rising blow and coming out too high and negating his leverage, making it so the opponent can get into his pads and put him at a disadvantage.
Urban does not show much in terms of flash when it comes to taking on and shedding blocks, but he does offer a good amount of substance and fundamentals. For the most part, he is a classic stack and shed player. Urban fires off of the ball, looks to get a good punch into his opponent, extend and then work angles to get into the backfield. When he is able to get penetration, he does an excellent job of using his arms to protect his body from allowing opponents to get a block on him and stop his momentum going forward.
This allows him to be a great player that can read and react, shed and chase down plays or win with second efforts, but he needs to add moves that will allow him to win off the draw and to this point, he has not displayed that yet. If he can do that, he can win more quickly, get into the backfield faster on passing situations and be more of a threat as a pass rusher.
Urban is a good fundamental run defender. He is not afraid to stay in his lane and clog up a gap so his teammates can make plays. Urban uses good leverage and pad level, so he can get penetration into the backfield and close down some of the options a ball carrier to choose. He does an excellent job maintaining extension with his arms and making it so the opponent has a difficult time getting into his body. As a result, when the running play is coming at him or away from him, he can disengage and chase down the play.
Urban has shown the ability to slide down the field, get through trash and chase down plays. He really does a good job of working down the line and tracking down plays, but can also get outside and make a play.
When Urban is going to slip through into the backfield, he wins off of the snap or by engaging the opponent, slipping his shoulder through and getting an angle that forces the opponent to try to push him out of the play by the back of his shoulder and back. Urban will use his inside arm to defend from allowing the opponent to get into his ribs and slowing down his momentum.
Urban does a pretty solid job against double teams, provided his pad level is right. Even though he is not a huge player in terms of weight, he is able to use good leverage and his long arms to give opponents a difficult time when it comes to moving him off of his spot. He has shown a natural ability to give a little ground and find the right leverage to where he can stop and stall them. If all else fails, he will go ahead and create a pile.
Urban will occasionally get too far leaning forward, which can result in him ending up on the ground. This is something he needs to continue to address and work on and it may take care of itself in some respects as he is able to add strength. Some of it appears to be a matter of assuming he needs to be so far forward to absorb the block and counter it, so when they let him go or shove him to the side, he can end up on the ground.
Urban is not a refined pass rusher. On pass plays, he still works mostly as a stack and shed player, so it can be tough for him to get to the quarterback in time to get sacks. In fact, for Urban, his only sack of the year was on a play where he slipped through the line untouched and was on the quarterback before he had gotten to his landmark.
To this point, he plays the pass the same way he plays the run. He takes on opponents, works to drive them back and then works angles to try to get into the backfield. Urban does a nice job on second efforts and is there to potentially clean up plays, but he has a tough time getting there in to secure the sack.
The Cavaliers have had him run around the edge on stunts to try to free him up, which makes sense, but the results are clunky. When it comes to that dramatic change of direction, Urban has a difficult time between his hips and ankles and is slow going around the edge. When he has a straight line, he has good speed whether it be coming up the middle or chasing an opponent from the outside with solid closing speed. The key is getting him to the point where he can win and get some of those runs at the quarterback.
The one area where Urban really does excel is getting his arms up and trying to deflect passes. He is extremely consistent with his effort there and had 9 pass deflections in 8 games as a senior, which is really impressive. Some of this goes to the fact that he is able to keep opponents from getting into his body and is free so he can get his arms up to potentially knock down passes.
Nevertheless, Urban is a project in this area of his game overall. He needs to develop one or ideally a few quick hitting moves he can really count on and trust to win matchups more efficiently, so he can get into the backfield and secure sacks.
Urban does have experience on special teams and his height, quick first step and knowing how to get his hands up in the way make him an asset when it comes to blocking kicks. He has experience doing it in Charlottesville, so this is nothing new for him.
Urban has shown he can play and hold up as a defensive tackle in a 4-3, but his best fit is probably in a 3-4 as a 5-technique defensive end. He has ideal length, has enough of athleticism and really uses his arms well that would allow him to hold the edge and help to play against the run. Urban just looks the part when it comes to the prototype for that position.
He still needs substantial work on his ability to rush the passer and that should come with him and coaching, but he looks ready to contribute as a run defender immediately. He looks like a run down specialist for the moment, but with time and development, he could be a real asset off the edge as well as potentially sliding inside as a rush tackle.
In the 4-3, he would also likely be a run stopper initially and a role player as he works to get more able to contribute as a pass rusher and be a full service player. Urban could certainly end up going to a 4-3 team and be a success there, but it does seem as though as 3-4 teams would value what he can do more.
Urban’s game could end up being similar to that of Desmond Bryant now of the Cleveland Browns. Bryant came out of Harvard as an undrafted free agent and made the Raiders roster, predominately as a run defender. With each season, he got a little bit better physically and added more to his game. He was able to incorporate more of a pass rushing presence as time went by and has evolved into a player that can contribute all the time at an extremely high level. It is incredibly unlikely Urban will go undrafted, but his path to success could be similar.
Brent Urban is an intriguing player who has a lot of physical potential in addition to the fact he is a good, fundamental run defender. Urban does a great job with the technique he knows and understands. He just needs to incorporate more of it to rush the passer and continue developing physically.
Urban accepted an invitation to the Senior Bowl and this will be a unique situation for him, because of the pit drill. Urban will be put in one on one matchups specifically designed to give him an advantage in pass rush situations, so it will be extremely interesting to see what he brings to the table in that regard. Based on his tape, he would seemingly struggle in that environment, but if he can show something, it could cause some teams to take a second look at him.
Urban is a project in terms of the fact that he has a role immediately, but his development will take time, but the payoff could be substantial. Unless there is a lingering medical issue from the unspecified leg injury he suffered during the season, Urban projects as a fringe top 100 pick that could go in the third round to a 3-4 team that likes his long term potential as an end.
Some of the film used for this scouting breakdown was provided by the good folks at draftbreakdown.com