Last week we had the chance to talk with Josh Graham, who is the publisher of InsideECUSports.com about Chicago Bears' undrafted free agent quarterback Shane Carden. After rookie mini-camp the Bears signed one of Carden's East Carolina teammates, nose tackle Terry Williams, so Josh was nice enough to answer a few more of our questions.
Windy City Gridiron - Williams ballooned north of 350 pounds last season after playing around 320 previously. Was that something the coaches asked of him or did he just let his weight go? He's down closer to 320 now, so do you think that's his best playing weight?
Josh Graham - That's a great question, Lester. I don't recall any of the coaches raising concerns when Williams was listed at 353 pounds at the start of last season. However, it wouldn't surprise me if his weight deflated as a result of working with East Carolina strength and conditioning coach Jeff Connors' and being asked to meet his demanding fitness requirements. With that all being said, I'd put his ideal playing weight between 320 and 330 pounds.
WCG - In 2013 Williams was suspended 8 games for violating team rules. How severe of a violation was it, and was that the only off field trouble he had during his time at ECU?
Josh Graham - This is the red flag for Terry Williams. The violation in 2013 wasn't severe, but he was a repeat offender. Prior to the 2012 season, Williams was suspended two games following a drug-related arrest and in 2013, it was a week-to-week thing as to whether or not coach Ruffin McNeill would allow him to return. According to McNeill, it was the team's unanimous decision to bring Williams back before ECU's regular season finale at Marshall. Williams was just never able to stay on the field for an extended period of time. When he wasn't suspended, he missed the Pirates' first two games of last season with a knee injury and was ruled ineligible just before his team left for the Birmingham Bowl.
WCG - Often times the low man wins in the trenches, and at a shade under 6 foot tall, Williams should have the leverage advantage on the line. Did he have the functional strength to more than hold his own in The American Athletic Conference?
Josh Graham - There's no question. I believe that if Williams played in every game last season and wasn't plagued by his off-the-field issues, he'd be seen as one of the top nose tackles in the draft and would have certainly been selected. Nicknamed the "Swamp Monster," when Williams played, he dominated in the trenches. His performance in ECU's road win against ranked Virginia Tech sticks out to me, where No. 54 was in the Hokie backfield on seemingly every single play. Despite his wide, hulking frame, his speed off the ball was astounding. At times, watching him play reminded me of Vince Wilfork.
WCG - Bears' defensive coordinator Vic Fangio asks his defensive lineman to play with both 2 gap and 1 gap principles, and he'll line them up and down the defensive line. Was Williams strictly a 2 gap 0 technique nose tackle or was he asked to do other things?
Josh Graham - In the last two seasons, ECU defensive coordinator Rick Smith mostly operated in a base, 3-4 defense and Williams was the anchor of it. Often times Williams was lined up directly over the center as a two-gap technique nose tackle. There might have been times as an underclassman — in previous coordinator Brian Mitchell's 4-3 defense — that Williams was moved around, especially with standout nose tackle Michael Brooks playing alongside him, but if that did happen, it was nothing extensive.
WCG - In your opinion, will Williams be able to make an NFL roster?
Josh Graham - Assuming that Williams stays out of trouble off of the field, I think he has a real chance to make the 53-man roster. It all depends on how many defensive tackles John Fox will want to keep. The Bears already drafted Florida State's Eddie Goldman in the second round and, like Williams, brought in Miami's (Fla.) Olsen Pierre as an undrafted free agent. There's no doubt in my mind that Williams has the talent to make an NFL roster, but the situation has to be right. I'm not sure if that's in Chicago.
Thanks to Josh for once again dropping some East Carolina knowledge!