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Chicago Bears select USC QB Caleb Williams with the first overall pick. Grade: A-

The Bears have been hoping for the savior to end their 75-year quarterback curse for a very long time, and Caleb Williams is next man up in that very long line. He has all the attributes to make that happen, but he’ll need to play with more of a sense of structure to really make that particular dream come true. The minus comes from the fact that I prefer LSU’s Jayden Daniels here, but it is what it is. 

A five-star recruit out of Gonzaga High School in Washington, D.C., Williams was the No. 2 prospect in the nation in 2021 (behind Quinn Ewers), and chose Lincoln Riley and the Oklahoma Sooners over just about every major program in the nation. He entered the transfer portal a month after Riley left Oklahoma for USC, and chose the Trojans over still more major offers.

In 2023, his second season with the Trojans after one season as a starter at Oklahoma, Williams completed 268 of 394 passes for 30 touchdowns, five interceptions, and a passer rating of 117.4. On throws of 20 or more air yards, Williams completed 34 of 66 passes for 1,342 yards, 15 touchdowns, two interceptions, and a passer rating of 124.1. Under pressure, Williams completed 48 of 102 passes for 739 yards, eight touchdowns, four interceptions, and a passer rating of 81.3. Williams had an absolutely preposterous passer rating of 130.1 when kept clean, so he’ll not only need good pass protection at the next level, but he’ll also need to avoid running himself into less than ideal situations.

As a runner, Williams gained 356 yards and scored 11 touchdowns on 50 carries. He also ran about 50 miles last season in and out of the pocket before he threw the ball last season. As much as we all love active and mobile quarterbacks these days, there are things Williams will have to cultivate and improve upon before all that stuff works hand-in-hand with his abilities as a pure passer.

But if you blitz him? Watch the heck out. Williams completed 93 of 145 passes for 1,394 yards, 15 touchdowns, and two interceptions when opponents brought more than the usual allotment of pass-rushers. Compare that with his 175 completions in 249 attempts for 2,253 yards, 15 touchdowns, three interceptions, and a passer rating of 113.4 when not blitzed, and there’s some of the upside with Williams’ mobile (and occasionally frenetic) style.

PLUSES

— Can make any throw when his upper and lower body are aligned, whether in the pocket or on the move.

— Will work through to his second and third reads even with chaos around him

— Can make all kinds of ridiculous off-platform throws, which both helps and hurts him

— Blitzing him is a bad idea; he had a higher passer rating when blitzed than when not

MINUSES

— Deep-ball accuracy is a mixed bag; he sails a lot of stuff with incomplete mechanics

–Trick-shot stuff is cool, but he needs to refine his throwing base and re-set when on the move.

— Can be a late thrower in the progression; needs to work to take a profit

— Needs to substitute pocket movement for pocket freneticism; this will improve his consistency

Williams will need a good NFL offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach he trusts to shave off the randomness. If that happens, it could get a bit Mahomes-ish out there.

Story originally appeared on Touchdown Wire