The highly anticipated Chicago Bears 2023 NFL season hasn’t gone close to how it was supposed to. Part of the reason is third-year quarterback Justin Fields hasn’t progressed as we thought he would. Because of that, the Bears may be in the market to Draft another quarterback in the 2024 NFL Draft.
The Bears have two first-round selections in the ’24 Draft, and if things keep going the way they have since the season began, they may be in a position to select one of the top quarterbacks in a quarterback-heavy draft class.
Over the next couple of weeks, I will break down the top quarterbacks in the upcoming draft to give you an idea of what the Bears may be selecting. The first up is USC quarterback Caleb Williams.
Williams is a true junior who began his career at Oklahoma in 2021. He played there for one season before transferring to USC in the spring of 2022. He transferred to USC because his Head Coach at Oklahoma, Lincoln Riley, took the head job at USC, and Caleb wanted to play in the same scheme under the same coach who recruited him out of high school.
In his one season at Oklahoma, Caleb played in 11 games and started the final seven. For a freshman playing his first season of college football, his statistics were rare. He attempted 211 passes and completed 136 for a 64.5% completion rate with 21 TDs and only four interceptions.
In 2022 at USC, playing in the same scheme but with a better supporting cast, Williams attempted 500 passes, completing 333 for a 66.6% completion rate, 42 TDs, and only five interceptions. That outstanding season won him the Heisman Trophy. This year, he is off to an even better start, completing 74.5% of his 101 throws for 1,200 yards and 15 TDs. He has not thrown an interception to date.
As good as Williams is, there are some negatives. He isn’t as tall as preferred by many NFL clubs, being measured at 6’1, but he is a well-built and sturdy 220 pounds. The other negative I see is that he sometimes shows a bit of an elongated throwing motion with a slight hitch at the top of his delivery. The “hitch” is similar to the one that Justin Fields had coming out of Ohio State. The important thing is that I don’t see that hitch on every throw, as there are times when his throwing motion is excellent.
Williams’ arm strength is very good. He can fire it when he needs to or throw it with touch. He also shows the ability to change his throwing angle if needed when in tight quarters.
The best parts of his game are his anticipation, accuracy, and instincts. He reads the field very well and makes quick decisions. When he makes that decision, the ball is out of his hand quickly. His ability to go through a progression is as good as I’ve seen from a college quarterback in years. He also shows the ability to look off one receiver and go to another. What’s even more amazing is his ability to adjust and make plays when on the move. He is always looking downfield, trying to find an open receiver.
Williams’ ability to scramble is rare. While he has speed, I doubt he will break 4.6 when he runs a 40, but he is extremely quick with excellent agility and change of direction. He also has an innate ability to “feel” pass rushers, elude them, and get off a throw. When watching tape and seeing him do this almost always brings a “wow” reaction, as it’s hard to believe that he just got off some of these throws and completed the pass. In a way, he does things that I have only seen Patrick Mahomes do.
I mentioned above that Williams is very accurate, but not only is he accurate, his ball placement is excellent. On almost every throw, he puts the ball in a place where the receiver can do something after the catch. There isn’t a throw he can’t make.
Caleb Williams may very well be a “generational” talent. He is the best quarterback prospect I have seen since probably Andrew Luck. His “game” reminds us of Mahomes, but Mahomes wasn’t nearly as successful in college as Willaims has been. He will easily be the first player selected in the 2024 NFL Draft. Because of the scheme he plays in at USC (NFL-type concepts), he may be more ready to be very productive as a rookie than most quarterbacks.