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Caleb Williams goes to the Bears with the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft

DETROIT (AP) — Caleb Williams is heading to the Windy City, aiming to become the franchise quarterback Chicago has sought for decades.

The Bears selected Williams with the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft on Thursday night after deciding weeks ago to bank on the 2022 Heisman Trophy winner from USC.

Williams is the third quarterback Chicago has selected in the first round in the past eight years. Mitch Trubisky, the No. 2 overall pick in 2017, lasted four seasons. Justin Fields, the 11th pick in 2021, was traded away for a conditional sixth-round pick after three seasons.

The 22-year-old Williams is tasked with turning the Bears into a winner after years of futility. Chicago has had just two winning seasons since its most recent playoff victory in the 2010 season.

Williams was the clear front-runner in a quarterback-rich draft that includes 2023 Heisman winner Jayden Daniels, Drake Maye and J.J. McCarthy. The Bears didn’t meet with any other QBs and Williams didn’t visit any other teams.

He impressed his future team over dinner with several Bears players last month, showing them he’s more substance than Hollywood style.

“It was good for them to be able to go back to the (front office) and speak on how I am instead of all the stuff that everybody sees every day on me,” Williams said Wednesday.

Bears general manager Ryan Poles was convinced Williams was the right choice after receiving positive feedback from the veterans.

“He came across as a really good teammate, easy to talk to, down to earth,” Poles said this week. “We’ve talked through this process about the whole Hollywood thing. He’s all ball, wants to work, wants to get better, wants to win as a team. That’s the No. 1 thing for him on top of being successful. So I think the biggest thing is: Does he fit with our culture and what we’re trying to do? And all signs were that he does, so that’s a positive.”

Williams has lofty goals. He’s talked about playing 20 years for one team and chasing Tom Brady’s record of seven Super Bowl titles. The Bears only have won it once following the 1985 season.

A dual-threat player with a strong arm and ability to improvise, Williams threw 93 touchdown passes and ran for 27 scores in three seasons at Oklahoma and USC.

The Bears are the only NFL franchise that hasn’t had a quarterback throw for 4,000 yards or 30 touchdowns in a season. They passed up on Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud last year and traded the No. 1 pick to Carolina in a blockbuster deal only to get the top choice this year after the Panthers went 2-15.

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