The San Diego Chargers head into the offseason with question marks along their Defensive Line; Who will replace Igor Olshansky? How much longer can Jamal Williams play at a high level? Is Luis Castillo injury prone? These questions are of particular concern to the team's fans as many of them view the Chargers greatest offseason need being the acquisition of a defensive lineman. While few players fit the prototype mold of a 3-4 nose guard, there is at least one player in this draft class who was built to play in the position; Defensive Tackle Ron Brace.
At 6'3" 330lbs, Brace is ideally suited for playing the nose in a 3-4 defense. After having a chance to speak with the mammoth tackle, I came away more convinced than ever that Brace could be the heir apparent to Jamal William's crucial two-gap responsibilities...
Ron, as one of the best nose guard prospects in this draft class, I would imagine that you are drawing some serious interest in teams that run a 3-4 defense. What teams have shown interest in you so far?
"I talked to a lot of teams at the Senior Bowl. It seems like a lot of the 3-4 teams really took an interest in me as a person and wanted to spend a lot of time with me. I remember my conversations with the Cowboys and Dolphins were pretty long. I also had a good conversation with the Chargers."
What did the Chargers say to you?
"They just told me that there aren’t many nose tackles in this draft and that they were happy with the way I was playing that week in Mobile."
How would you feel about playing in San Diego?
"I would love to play in San Diego. I’ve heard the city is beautiful."
Are you familiar with the team and some of the things they like to do on defense?
"I know they run a 3-4 and that means the outside linebackers bring a lot of pressure. I’m sure they use stunts and delayed blitzes on the inside and out, so I think it’d be nice to play in a system like that."
How would you feel about playing a three-man front?
"Playing a 3 man front would be fine with me. I’m a pretty big guy and have no problem taking on multiple defenders to clog the middle."
Based on your rising stock and unique abilities, where do you expect to be drafted?
"Man I really have no idea. I’ve heard some people say late first round. Some have said third. So I really don’t know what to expect. I’m just focused on testing well at the Combine and at my pro day. The rest will take care of itself."
You improved every year at Boston College, particularly with making plays behind the line of scrimmage. What do you attribute your success to? Was it a matter of improving on techniques like rush moves or do you think playing in a rotation kept you fresher in the third and fourth quarter?
"Just getting stronger, quicker, and smarter as each year went on. In high school, I used my size to my advantage and was able to basically throw people around to get to the quarterback. I had to really focus on working on my technique in college because the competition was so much better. So the longer I worked on that stuff, the more comfortable I felt."
Speaking of competition, the ACC is loaded with great offensive linemen. Who were some of the best guys you went up against in your career? And how did the competition level in your conference help prepare you for the NFL?
"There were a lot of talented guys throughout the years. One of them was my former teammate, Gosder Cherilus. We went at it every day in practice and I think that made me a better player."
Talk about your strengths as a player... what do you think your role would be in the NFL?
"I’m strong and very quick off the snap. I know how to take on multiple guys in order to let my teammates come in for the kill. I’ll collapse the pocket and stuff the run. Those are some of my best attributes. I think what a lot of people don’t realize is how light I am on my feet for a big man. I plan on being a starter in the League one day and just hope to have a long, healthy career."
Who are you most looking forward to playing against as a pro?
"I’m just excited to get going. Just being able to play professional ball is going to be a thrill for me."
Alright now for some fun questions: Favorite team, any sport?
"Playing in Boston, of course I’m a Celtics fan."
Favorite free-time activity?
"Listening to music and watching the History channel."
What would your last meal be?
"A big steak dinner."
Free trip any in the world...where would you go?
"To a tropical island, with good-looking women."
First thing you'll buy after signing your deal?
"I plan on putting money into the bank."
I want to thank Mr. Ron Brace and his agent Nate for making this interview happen. Good luck Ron, hope to talk again down the road!
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