Super Mario: A quick Q&A with draft's top DE

Among other topics, Mario Williams talks about comparisons to Julius Peppers, the art of rushing the passer, his decision to come out early and the versatility that makes him one of the top prospects available at any position in the 2006 NFL draft.

Q: What do you think of the Julius Peppers comparisons?

It's actually an honor. He's a great player. Just to be compared to somebody like that, I'm thankful.

Q: The art of rushing the passer, what's your modus for getting to the quarterback?

I'm just out there and come off the ball. It's second nature. It's my instincts. Something that I do. I can't say I do this or do that.

Q: What is your background in basketball?

I played at the beginning of my high school career. But I stopped after I rolled my ankle. I didn't want to anymore.

Q: Have you played any position other than defensive end?

My senior year of high school, they put me at running back and I was lighting it up. Big guys always want to touch the ball and run around. I had a chance to do that and it was a great feeling and something I really enjoyed.

Q: Julius Peppers has caught some passes. What about you?

Yeah, I know. If they're going to compare me to him, you'd think they'd let me do it. ... But, no, not yet. We did have a couple plays set up like that, but never got the opportunity to do that this past year.

Q: What led to your decision to come out early?

I felt as a team, most importantly, we pulled together and finished strong. I felt I had a pretty good run there at the end and that my opportunity for the next level was pretty good right now. I just didn't want to, maybe, (have) something happen next year, whether it was on the field or off the field, that might mess up my chances. I felt I had a great opportunity to go ahead and enter the draft.

Q: Are you better suited for the 3-4 defensive scheme or the 4-3?

I can do whatever. I can play the 3-4. I can play the 4-3. If you want me back at linebacker I can do that coming off the edge. My main goal coming into this was to be versatile and let the teams put me where they want to. It's all about the team, put me where I fit it. Right side or left side - no, it really doesn't matter. I played defensive tackle, outside linebacker and defensive end this year, and I moved up and down the line, so sometimes I had to put my left hand down, sometimes my right hand. But if I had to say or choose, I would say my left because I've always played on that left side with my right hand down.

Q: What was your playing weight in college?

This past year, I was around 285 or 290. It fluctuated. I usually gain about 10 pounds every year. My freshman year I came in and was about 255. Gained 10. Then 10 more. Right now, I'm 295.

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