Coquitlam, B.C., native Jevon Holland is proud to represent Canada at 2021 NFL draft

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Canadian Jevon Holland's decision to bet on himself is about to pay huge dividends.

The six-foot, 207-pound junior safety from Coquitlam, B.C., opted out of the 2020 season at Oregon to prepare for the 2021 NFL draft. Despite not playing football last year, Holland is expected to be the first Canadian selected in the draft, which will be held April 29-May 1.

"I feel I have confidence in myself as much as I can," Holland told reporters during a recent video conference. "I knew what I was capable of and the level of play I have, especially with the past couple of years.

"I feel like I put in the work and so when the situation came to be I decided to go with the opt out. It wasn't really a gamble, I wasn't gambling anything. I knew what the outcome was going to be, what I was going to put down and I went out and I did that."

Holland said while NFL officials have asked him about his decision, they haven't dwelled upon it.

"They ask what the reasoning behind it was, I tell them . . . and we move on," he said. "It's not like an issue, they're not staying on the topic."

Holland is projected as a second-round selection and tops a talented Canadian draft class. As many as six Canucks could be selected, which would break the existing record of four set in 2014.

Holland registered 66 tackles, including 4.5 for a loss, and four interceptions in 14 games for Oregon in 2019. He appeared in 27 career contests with the Ducks, accumulating 108 tackles and nine interceptions.

At Oregon's pro day, Holland posted 40-yard dash times of 4.46 and 4.48 seconds. He also registered a 35.5-inch vertical jump, a stellar broad jump of 10 feet six inches and 19 reps in the 225-pound bench press.

Holland can also play cornerback and return punts, as well.

"I feel I am a versatile player," he said. "You can kind of put me into any system and I'm going to thrive.

"I want to be somebody that coaches and my teammates can rely on and understand I'm somebody that's going to make a play when I'm put out there. I'm going to do my job and help my team win."

Holland was invited to this year's NFL combine, but the league eliminated in-person workouts due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Interviews and psychological testing were done virtually with limited in-person medical exams.

Holland comes by his football prowess honestly, His father, John, was a defensive back in both the NFL (San Francisco 1992-93) and CFL (1990, 1993-97 with B.C., Edmonton and Saskatchewan).

"I just thought he was always on my case because he was my dad and that's why he did," Holland said. "But, really, he knew what it took to get to that next level, the work ethic I have to have and put in.

"Honestly, I'm blessed to have him in my corner supporting me, no matter what."

Despite growing up in Oakland, Calif., Holland has never forgotten his Canadian roots and is proud to head up the country's talent pool for this year's draft. The other Canucks who could be selected include Tennessee receiver Josh Palmer (Brampton, Ont.), Oklahoma State running back Chuba Hubbard (Sherwood Park, Alta) and linebacker Amen Ogbongbemiga (Calgary), Iowa offensive lineman Alaric Jackson (Windsor, Ont.) and Minnesota cornerback Benjamin St-Juste (Montreal).

"Being a Canadian in the NFL process, I feel pride to represent Canada," Holland said. "I feel pride to represent where I'm from because I don't really hear of a lot of people coming out of Coquitlam being in the NFL.

"I feel honoured to be the one to rep the community and I've been training with Chuba . . . we've had this conversation. I feel like I'm representing Canada like someone would be in the Olympics."

Although he's expected to go early in the draft, Holland said he's far from being a finished product.

"There's room to improve," he said. "This is the professional level so you always have to adapt, you always have to improve.

"I feel like in order to stay in the league and be in the league you need to take that next step to make sure you can be somebody teams can rely on."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 13, 2021.

Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press