Chris Simms on Caleb Williams: ‘His mechanics are flawless'

Chris Simms on Caleb Williams: ‘His mechanics are flawless' originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

NFL analyst and quarterback guru Chris Simms made waves last week when he ranked Caleb Williams the No. 20 QB in the NFL this year– the highest he’s ever ranked a rookie quarterback in his annual review. Simms joined the Under Center Podcast this week to explain why, and heaped even more praise on the new Bears signal caller.

“Caleb is as gifted and natural of a thrower as you’re ever going to find,” Simms said on the show. “His mechanics are flawless.”

Simms played QB for eight seasons in the NFL, and worked as an assistant coach under Bill Belichick in New England for another season. Over the years his rookie QB rankings have been solid.

In 2018, he listed Lamar Jackson and Josh Allen as the cream of the crop, when many others preferred Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen. One year later he had Kyler Murray as his top QB, but many others did too. In 2020, Simms was back to zigging when others zagged, and appeared to nail it once again. He listed Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert and Jordan Love as his top three QBs when most of the NFL world was talking about tanking for Tua Tagovailoa. The Dolphins quarterback finally broke out for a huge year in 2023, but Burrow and Herbert have played better longer. Even Love has shown why the Packers drafted him in the first round now that he’s gotten the chance to play.

Simms’ most impressive QB assessment probably came in 2017, however, when he raved about Patrick Mahomes as the most talented player in the draft. At the time most folks argued about whether Deshaun Watson, Mitchell Trubisky or even DeShone Kizer deserved to be the first QB off the board.

Of course, Simms has had his misses too. He was more right than most when he listed Justin Fields as his No. 5 QB in the class. But he had a big miss when he ranked Zach Wison No. 1 over Trevor Lawrence.

And yes, Simms had C.J. Stroud ahead of Bryce Young last year.

So the track record speaks for itself. When Simms talks about incoming rookie QBs, we should probably listen.

Bears fans will be glad to hear that Simms had only excellent things to say about Williams.

“Caleb Williams is one of the better prospects I’ve ever evaluated coming out of the draft at the quarterback position,” Simms said. “As soon as I watched this guy I went, ‘Wow.’”

Simms said his feelings about Williams this year are similar to how he felt when watching players like Mahomes, Burrow, Allen and even Andrew Luck. The reason he was so impressed is that he can do so many different things at a high level. Those things fall into distinct categories: the ability to succeed when things go right, the ability to succeed when things go wrong and the ability to succeed when the team needs him to go above and beyond.

“When he’s in the pocket and it’s all clean, and he’s got somebody open and he needs to throw a seam or an in cut, he does it and it’s textbook,” Simms said. “Of course we know he can do it when it’s not textbook and coloring outside the lines, too. That’s what makes him great.

“His physical ability is phenomenal. I mean his arm and his ability to make not only power throws, game-changing throws– I would say he throws more off-platform, different arm angles than anyone I’ve ever seen come out in the draft.”

Highlight reels of Williams at SC are filled with plays of him scrambling behind the line of scrimmage and making a ridiculous throw on the move. He’s got an incredible knack for turning a negative way into a positive play, similar to how Fields wowed the world in Chicago. What you don’t see in those highlight reels is Williams operating the offense at baseline. Watching an easy completion over the middle of the field for seven yards isn’t sexy, so those plays don’t make the supercut. But plays like that separate Williams from Fields in Simms’ eyes.

“If there’s a play to be had in the system, can you make it work? Can you be surgical within that system? He can be. He’s one of the best I’ve seen in the pocket. Not only the feel in the pocket, but going through reads at a quick pace and being able to evaluate defense. I was really impressed with that.”

It’s the third category– Williams ability to go above and beyond– that excites Simms the most, however.

“In the NFL, the offensive coordinator isn’t going to be right all the time. You’re going to play people like Steve Spagnuolo, they’re going to do crazy stuff on defense and your coaching staff is not going to have coached you up a lot on it because it’s going to catch them off guard too. So you’ve got to be able to make some plays that are above and beyond what the system can deliver.”

Simms said Williams is as good as anyone he’s ever seen coming out of college in that department.

“I mean, c’mon. USC couldn’t run the ball, they couldn’t protect. We’re not talking about any of the other guys on that offense in the first three rounds of the draft. And yet we thought they should be in the national championship contention because of one guy.”

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