Caleb Williams is facing colossal expectations. The likely No. 1 NFL draft pick isn't scared.

INDIANAPOLIS – He’s the face of this upcoming NFL draft, the presumed No. 1 overall pick with a bullet. Caleb Williams surely looked and sounded like the part on Friday, when the NFL’s next can’t-miss quarterback prospect met with dozens of reporters during the league’s annual scouting combine and unleashed, well, a stream of consciousness.

What if he’s not drafted with the top pick?

Good, at least somebody asked the question.

“It’s not a thought in my mind,” Williams responded.

Go ahead, check the box for confidence on your draft scorecard.

“I don’t think I’m not going to be No. 1,” Williams continued. “I put in all the hard work. All of the time, effort, energy into being that. I don’t think of a Plan B. That’s kind of how I do things in my life. I don’t think of a Plan B. Stay on Plan A, and then when things don’t work out, find a way to make Plan A work.”

Well then.

Of course, the Chicago Bears still hold the option of officially crowning the dazzling star from Southern California as the top pick when the draft commences in Detroit on April 25. At this point, it seems like a formality – even if some team blows Chicago away with a trade offer it can’t refuse.

As it stands now, the Bears would be crazy not to bank on Williams, who passed for 42 touchdowns when he won the Heisman Trophy in 2022. The real mystery is probably how much of a haul Bears GM Ryan Poles can fetch in unloading current quarterback Justin Fields that would be parlayed into more layers of support to provide the new quarterback.

In other words, let the great expectations roll.

USC quarterback Caleb Williams, left, celebrates after USC defeated UCLA 48-45 in an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022, in Pasadena, Calif.
USC quarterback Caleb Williams, left, celebrates after USC defeated UCLA 48-45 in an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022, in Pasadena, Calif.

Williams, 22, feels it and is hardly scrambling out of the pocket when considering the weight that will come as the centerpiece for a franchise that has a tradition of floundering quarterbacks. He envisions making such a mark that he’s delved deep into learning about two Windy City sports icons – Michael Jordan and Walter Payton.

Nothing may say more about embracing expectations quite like that.

Asked to ponder becoming the football version of Jordan in Chicago, Williams said, “I’d say anywhere I go, that is my standard. That is what I play for as you all saw.

“I don’t play for fame. I don’t play for money. I don’t play for jewels and things like that. I want to go out there and win as many games as possible. Be the best that I can...I think I can reach certain points like that.”

Williams, as expected, refused to participate in the combine workouts and quarterback drills. So, there will be no fresh comparisons to others in a loaded quarterback class, at least when it comes to the so-called “underwear Olympics.” That, too, reflects how it is often done with the top prospects in a draft (Ohio State receiver Marvin Harrison, Jr., is another notable non-participant in drills).

“I didn’t feel the need to go out and throw,” said Williams, who, in the fashion of two-time MVP Lamar Jackson, won’t hire an agent.

“I played around 30-something games, I believe. Go ahead and watch real live ball of me and see how I am as a competitor.”

It was more stunning, though, that Williams declined to engage in the extensive medical evaluations that are part of the combine process. The event was actually established during the 1980s as a cost-effective means for the medical staffs of every NFL team to assemble while examining the top prospects. The workouts and interviews came after that.

Well, Williams has bucked that bit of history and provided another example of how some players, at least the star players, are flexing more leverage.

It’s unclear whether he’s the first healthy prospect to refuse to undergo the battery of medical tests. But he’s surely not the first who might be annoyed by the poking and prodding from so many hands during the process.

“I’ll be doing the medical stuff,” Williams said. “Just not here in Indy. I’ll be doing them at the team interviews. Not all 32 teams can draft me. There is only one of me. So, the teams that I go to for my visits, those teams will have the medical, and that’s it.”

The showcase date for USC’s pro day is March 20. After that, Williams will undoubtedly visit and presumably work out for teams at the top of the draft – the Washington Commanders and New England Patriots currently hold the second and third choices after the Bears.

While at the combine, Williams engaged in interviews with several teams, including those with the top three picks.

Surely, his early impressions of the Bears' brain trust, headed by Poles and coach Matt Eberflus, are significant enough. Even when the block of time for such combine interviews is in the 10-minute range.

“They were awesome," Williams said. "I spoke more about all and things like that because the interviews are so short. So, it was more about them getting to know me, getting to test my mental, what I know, the base things of what it takes to be a quarterback in the NFL."

The Bears will have a new offensive coordinator, with Shane Waldron lured from Seattle. That dynamics of that potential relationship will be crucial. Yet that, too, will have to wait and play out.

"Ten minutes is difficult to figure out if they're going to be able to develop you," Williams said. "I enjoyed the meeting. It was a good meeting, but 10 minutes or so, it's pretty difficult."

Pragmatic enough. Yet Williams doesn't hesitate to share certain impressions of the team that landed the top pick from the woeful Carolina Panthers as part of a trade in 2023.

"The Bears were a 7-10 team," he said, alluding to Chicago's finish. "That is pretty good for a team that has the first pick. And they've got a good defense. They've got good players on offense, and it's pretty exciting if you can go into a situation like that."

Any message to the fans of Chicago?

"I'd say the player and person they'd be getting is a person that cares for his teammates," Williams said. "Some of y'all may have seen...I try to take care of all my guys, no matter if you're fourth on the depth chart or the star player. The other part is I'm a fierce competitor, as you may have seen after some games."

He'd better be as the top pick in the draft. And as the ramp-up to the draft intensifies, Williams will brace himself for various forms of nitpicking, rumors and innuendos that, fair or not, have become part of the process.

Along the way, he wants to find out something about the Bears, too.

"Just do you want to win," he said. "That is it."

Spoken like a real No. 1.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Caleb Williams faces wild NFL draft expectations, and he isn't scared