Here is what offensive tackle Chris Williams, general manager Jerry Angelo and coach Lovie Smith had to say after the Bears used the No. 14 pick in the draft on the Vanderbilt product:
On being drafted by the Bears:
Its great to be a Bear and to come play for a team with so much tradition. I am speechless right now. I am so excited to come in and be a part of that tradition there in Chicago.
On talking with Coach Smith prior to the draft:
I though he was a great guy, I thought he was a great coach. You can tell he develops a relationship with his players and he wants to be that kind of coach. I really liked my time with him and I am really excited to have a chance to play for him.
On an incident at the Senior Bowl and his discipline:
At Vanderbilt, we dont fight on the field at practice or at the games because you know it is going to cost you the next game and that [was a situation] of just showing discipline as a player that yeah, I would like to take his head off, but at the same time, you have to show discipline as a player and be smarter than that and not take a 15-yard penalty.
On his intensity on the offensive line:
Obviously, the Bears felt, and I feel, that I have enough fire. I play hard and I play with intensity. I dont know where that comes from. I guess if they have to find a knock that might be why, but I will continue to play hard and do whatever Coach Hiestand asks me to do.
On the possibility of starting in 2008:
I dont know if I anticipate that, but I feel that they drafted me to fill that need and I am going to come in and definitely try to start and I am assuming that is why they picked me in the first round. Most teams dont waste first round picks on guys that dont play, so thats what I picture coming in there.
On injury rumors:
I dont have any neck issues. I really dont know where that came from. I had a typical football player [injury] in 05 but that was the last problem that I had.
On working with the other guys on the Bears offensive line:
A lot of that depends on me and the other guys. If I come in and show the other guys the respect that is due to veterans, I dont think that will be a problem to get in sync with them. I am going to do everything I can to be a part of that.
On being familiar with the Bears:
I have met Hunter [Hillenmeyer] a couple times. I never had the chance to play with him, but I have met him and a bunch of the front office guys, Mr. Angelo, Coach Smith and Coach Hiestand and several of the scouts. I am very familiar with the team.
On waiting to be selected at No. 14:
It was a little nerve racking. I thought Denver would take a tackle, which they did, but I didnt know who it would be and it wasnt me, but that just made me want to play Denver, because I have to show them why they should have drafted me.
As you know, we just completed our first round choice with Chris Williams of Vanderbilt. We went into this with our number one need at left tackle in the offseason, after we discussed our team at length. We wanted to get a tackle and obviously if we had our choice, it would be left tackle. So, we feel really good about our selection of Chris. We spent a lot of time on him. He played out his whole career as a senior, which in itself maybe its 50 percent with a first round pick, so we felt really good about his play history. We spent a lot of time with him at the Senior Bowl. Lovie went down and visited with him this offseason. I feel we know him as well as you can know a player. Everybody position coach, head coach, myself, area scouts, Greg Gabriel felt very good about him and what he brings to our football team. Youre going to find hes very gregarious in terms of his personality. Hes very intelligent, very passionate about football. He has a nice little story that started out in high school. He came in there as an athlete and put an incredible amount of weight on throughout his career. We listened to his position coach talk about him. He has been in the game a long, long time. [His coach] said he was the smartest player he ever coached. He talked about his love of the game; all of the things you wanted to hear about a player intangibly, Chris has. There was some talk about the medical stuff. Hes fine. Obviously at the combine we checked him once, twice, a third time. We feel very good about his medical [situation] as well. There really isnt any issue in our minds. All of these players have a little wear-and-tear to them, particularly when they have played their whole career in college, but we are fine on that end as well.
On deciding between offensive tackles Branden Albert, Jeff Otah and Chris Williams:
He [Williams] played the position. Its play history. Again, Otah came out early, Albert was a guard. He [Albert] maybe had three or four starts at tackle. Coach Hiestead went out and worked all three of them out. He had a really good handle on it. We liked all three players very much. It was just a matter of taking the player with the best history at the position and the player that we knew the best. We just felt like when we were going out in the offseason, were looking to shoot holes in all these players. We probably shot fewer holes in him than we did the other two. In the end, we felt he was the best player for us.
On intelligence translating onto the field (Williams high Wonderlic score):
In his case, its very important at the offensive line positions. When you talk about the I.Q., thats probably a position collectively around the league that coaches look at maybe more acutely than other coaches at their respective positions. That really is, maybe his strongest point. I think thats really important. If were looking at these players that we are drafting today and tomorrow with these first four picks, to contribute and possibly start, obviously thats going to be determined by the coaches, but the I.Q. and the play history plays a lot into that, so you dont want to be projecting. When you talk about projecting players at other positions, you talk about lack of play history and/or he might need a little learning curve. Those are things to me, are flags and Chris has the least amount of flags and thats why we did what we did.
On giving the running back position serious consideration:
We talked about Rashard [Mendenhall] quite a bit. We liked him very, very much, but we felt that the line was our biggest need, our tackle position and we needed to address that. As you know, Fred [Miller] isnt with us anymore. We have John St. Clair and John Tait. We have two tackles on our roster with any play history. We really felt we needed to address that and if we had our choice, we wanted to bring in a left tackle. Could we have gone the other way? Yes, we could have gone the other way. That was an option as well, but really it was the tackle position.
On being surprised with the selection at the tackle position:
A little bit. There was so much said about the run at the offensive line. I thought it could have started as early as pick eight with Baltimore. Baltimore was pegged to take an offensive lineman so when they traded out and all of those defensive players [were taken], that surprised me. The run on the defensive players, particularly with the linebacker, the corners. I felt that a running back was going to go to Carolina, at least we heard that, running back or tackle. We heard Clady going to Denver, but heard that the other two could have easily gone, as well, before. We felt that we were fortunate that we had some choices.
On a situation at the Senior Bowl:
That is looking under rocks for things. Thats not going to be his problem. I was in Tampa with Paul Gruber for a long time. You could hit Paul as many times as you want. Paul was never going to come at you. Its more his demeanor than his competitive nature. Hes a very competitive player. We wont get anybody at Vanderbilt that is going to question his toughness. Thats not an issue. If a left tackle has failed, its because they are not talented enough, they cant pass protect, but we certainly feel fine about Chris competitive nature.
On medical issues regarding his neck:
There were some issues again, he had some wear-and-tear, but we are fine with him. We looked at the medical. It wasnt any red flag for us with his medical. There were some medical issues with other players that went ahead of him and its how our medical people saw him. Obviously, we arent going to make an investment in a first round pick if we felt like that was a red flag.
On Williams playing at guard:
I wouldnt think we would play him at guard at all. We would keep him at tackle because that is where he plays. If you want a player to come in and contribute fairly soon, you really need to keep him at his position, the position he is most comfortable with, but again, how that is done, that will be determined by our coaches.
On considering trading down as a result of the tackles available:
Yes, we did consider trading down. We got phone calls from several people and they were very aggressive, but we really felt strongly about Chris. We thought he fit the prototype of what we were looking for. It was a good fit for us. We are very happy about that. Not many times do you set the course to target a guy and/or guys and have a choice of them, but you dont want to look a gift horse in the mouth and we dont want to get cute on draft day. We are very happy with our selection.
On his size and the size of offensive linemen:
Hes a giant, low body fat. This was the best year of offensive tackles that I have seen in my tenure in the League and I think that is a collective opinion around the League. This was a very, very good year and it just by happenstance that, that was the position in need for us, so I feel very fortunate just like when we got Tommie Harris at the fourteenth pick. We got the first defensive lineman at the fourteenth pick and if you saw today, the defensive linemen where they went and how early they go, that is prototypical. So, I felt we were fortunate, meaning it was a very good year for offensive tackles, maybe as time will tell, the best ever, and we were able to get a good quality offensive lineman in the middle of the first round.
On drafting Chris Williams:
Of course we are very excited about having Chris become a part of our football team. I had a chance to go out to Vanderbilt and spend time with him. It gave me a chance to see for myself what a quality person he is. He comes from a great family. We think he could end up being a very good football player. He has played at a high level in the SEC for a long time at the left tackle position, which he will play for us. Again, that was a need that we had going into the draft.
On his personality:
He is a serious player, he is a newly wed and I mentioned he comes from a great family where education is stressed. You can say that about most of the guys that go to Vanderbilt. Chris is pretty driven to be one of the better players to play the position. He has high expectations for the type of play that we will get from him. From what I saw, he was just a solid player that had direction and knew where he wanted to go. He saw himself being a Chicago Bear back then [during the visit] and I saw him being a Chicago Bear too, and I am glad that it worked out.
On Williams starting in 2008:
Thats jumping out there pretty quickly [to talk about starting]. When you take a player in the first round, you should think that he can come in and play for you. I definitely think Chris will play a lot of years at a high level. As far as when he moves up, all rookies start from the same place and that is down at the bottom. We will let him tell us when he needs to move from there and I have a feeling he move real quickly.
On his run and pass blocking:
I dont know if I can say either right now. I think he does both real well. The type of offense they ran at Vanderbilt, he had a couple different kind of quarterbacks that he played with. I think he can do both. He is probably known right now more as a pass blocker. Those left tackles would like for you to talk more about their pass blocking, than their run blocking. But Chris knows what we do. We get off the bus running the football.