Canadian DB Jevon Holland keen to ‘absorb knowledge’ from reigning NFL interception leader Xavien Howard

Canadian defensive back Jevon Holland wants to learn from the best with the Dolphins.

Fortunately, the NFL’s reigning interception leader plays for Miami. Xavien Howard stepped in front of 10 passes during the 2020 season, topping the league for the second time in his five-year career while earning first-team All-Pro recognition.

“I’m trying to absorb all the knowledge that’s possible and when Xavien gets here I hope to pick his brain and try to get as much knowledge as he’ll give to me, so that I can go out there and perform,” Holland said in a videoconference.

Howard was picked in the second round, 38th overall during the 2016 NFL Draft and has developed into the most feared cover man in the league.

General manager Chris Grier selected Holland in the second round, 36th overall during the 2021 NFL Draft and head coach Brian Flores has high expectations for the Coquitlam, B.C. native.

“Jevon was one of my favourite players to watch. He’ll be a great fit for what we do. He’s got leadership qualities, the ability to communicate and really quarterback a defence because he is smart,” Flores said in a videoconference.

Grier and Flores admitted both men were nervous about Holland potentially being picked prior to their slot in round two. Following the choice, there were numerous calls and texts from rival teams letting them know Holland was in their sights. Grier described Holland as a very smart, instinctive football player who has a nose for the ball.

The 21-year-old played two seasons at the University of Oregon and worked to become one of the most versatile defensive backs in the NCAA. He recorded 108 tackles, 10 pass knockdowns, nine interceptions, 4.5 tackles for loss, and scored one touchdown on a pick-six in 27 games with the Ducks.

“I think in college it’s a completely different beast than the NFL. These are high calibre quarterbacks, these are really great quarterbacks, so I have no knowledge of how to get interceptions in the NFL,” Holland admitted.

At Oregon’s pro day Holland checked in at six-foot-and-a-half, 207 pounds with a 76-and-five-eights wingspan and displayed the requisite athleticism to translate his play-making skills to the NFL. He ran a 4.46 forty-yard time, 4.14 shuttle, recorded a 35.5-inch vertical, 10-foot, six-inch broad jump, and repped 225 pounds 19 times on the bench press.

“The advantages come from understanding the defensive scheme and plays, that comes from the meetings,” Holland said.

While Holland works on high quality habits as a pro, he’s acclimating himself to the different weather climate in the Sunshine state compared to the Pacific Northwest. The South Beach heat was categorized as “abnormally hot” by Holland.

“I’ve been on the West coast my entire life, I’ve never been to Florida, it is a different type of heat,” Holland said. “Adapting to the weather is definitely something that I’m trying to do — really it’s adapt or die, so you gotta adapt.”

Even though Holland is now based on the Southeast Coast in a state home to the reigning Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers, his favourite NHL team remains unchanged.

“I don’t watch hockey as much as I would like to, but I will say go Canucks,” Holland said. “That’s the home team, so always got to shout out to the home team — go Canucks.”

Clearly Holland’s Canadian roots have traveled with him to Miami as the versatile athlete works to achieve his NFL goals.

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