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C.J. Stroud, Micah Parsons praise Caleb Williams pick, but question Justin Fields handling

C.J. Stroud, Micah Parsons praise Caleb Williams pick, but question Justin Fields handling originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Thursday night was an iconic moment in Bears history after drafting quarterback Caleb Williams and wide receiver Rome Odunze in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft.

The Bears' first-round duo drew universal praise from analysts and players, including Dallas Cowboys star edge rusher Micah Parson and Houston Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud, who did a live stream during the first round with Bleacher Report.

However, while Parsons and Stroud approved of the selection of Williams and Odunze, it also caused them to raise questions about how the Bears handled the situation with former quarterback Justin Fields, who was traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers for a 2025 conditional sixth-round pick in March.

To Parsons, Fields would have been the ideal guy to share the quarterback room with Williams.

"I do think it’s a great pick," Parsons said of Williams. "I do think they should have held onto Justin and drafted Caleb just because it is a rough transition, and at this point, Justin is a veteran. He’s in the league. He can help mold him. It keeps the competition alive. Camp might be a little bit stronger. You always want that good competition in the room. Whatever position you play, you want to come in and be able to compete. I think this is a good pick. Caleb is going to be a good player. He just got to learn some things that’s going to allow him to be an NFL QB, and I think Justin would have been a great guy to learn from his mistakes. It’s a good pick. He’s going to help turn them around. The situation is great."

At the annual NFL league meetings in Orlando, general manager Ryan Poles said he and his team had "deep conversations" about keeping Fields and drafting Williams. But they ultimately decided it was in the best interest of both quarterbacks to trade Fields and give Williams a clear runway to take off in his rookie season.

Stroud, who was teammates with Fields at Ohio State and is good friends with the former Bears quarterback, questioned why Poles and the front office gave Williams all the support needed to succeed but not Fields after they selected Odunze at No. 9.

"That’s a great pick," Stroud said of the Odunze selection. "Like Micah said, they are making it hard for Caleb Williams to not do good. That’s good, man. The Bears organization is finally doing something right with the trajectory that they are going.

"To be honest with you, not to throw any shade at their front office but man, why couldn’t they do this for Justin?" Stroud said later on. "Because he’s my guy. To me that makes no sense. They couldn’t do this in years prior? They tried to make Justin work, but no coordinator in NFL history has probably make three coordinators work with two head coaches. That makes no sense. They are giving Caleb Williams the shot to figure it out with structure and stability. Which I love for him. But that’s just confusing to me that they wouldn’t do that for Justin.”

For Parsons, one of the NFL's best defensive players, the selection of Odunze was a home run for Williams and a Bears' offense he believes can be one of the most dynamic in the NFL in 2024.

"It’s really allowing Caleb Williams -- they are making it almost impossible for him to fail," Parsons said. "They are saying we are giving you every weapon. We signed the running back. We traded for the receiver.

"They are making it impossible for Caleb to fail. That’s super exciting to see. When you got these young guys – same with CJ, man – getting them the help early so they can succeed in this league. It’s great to see, man. This is a really good pick. They got every position on the field. Their 11 personnel is going to be one of the most dynamic that we have seen in a long time. It’s almost taking us back to that Eagles offense the year they went to the Super Bowl, man. This is really exciting to see for Caleb Williams and the Chicago Bears."

The expectations for Williams and Odunze will be sky-high, but they won't be bigger than the grand vision they have for their future together in Chicago.

"My last goal is immortality," Williams told reporters Thursday night in Detroit. "The only way to reach that is winning championships. That’s big for me and something that is the reason I play the game. I’m excited."

"I want to go out there and do legendary things," Odunze echoed later. "And that takes legendary goals and not the shyness to go out there and say that you're going to go out there and go do those things."

Williams and Odunze will be officially introduced as Bears on Friday at Halas Hall, and a new day in Chicago will officially dawn.

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