Is USC’s Caleb Williams a lock to go No. 1 in the 2024 NFL draft?

Caleb Williams, the USC Trojans’ signal caller and 2022 Heisman Trophy winner, was the star of the Cotton Bowl versus Tulane, with 462 passing yards and five touchdowns, the most in Cotton Bowl history.

Even though he and USC’s offense had 594 yards against the Green Wave, they came up short due to a late rally from their opponent in the final 4:30 of the game. Tulane scored 16 points on two touchdowns and a safety to pull off a 46-45 win over the Men of Troy.

Lincoln Riley and Caleb Williams had an incredible performance in year one, Williams set the USC single-season record for passing touchdowns (42) and passing yards (4,537). Yet, a lot of those feats were overshadowed by Alex Grinch’s defense.

This next item doesn’t have anything to do with Grinch or the defense: Caleb Williams’ draft stock has never been higher.

What is next for the projected No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 NFL draft?

This year, the quarterback class is extremely talented. With studs such as C.J. Stroud, Bryce Young,  Will Levis and many others, teams with mediocre field generals are scrambling to find ways to get their hands on these top talents.

However, some teams may have already made the decision to pass on picking a QB in this draft. They would rather wait one more year until the 2024 draft comes around to be able to get their hands on Caleb Williams.

Lincoln Riley has already coached Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray, who went first overall, and Jalen Hurts, who is an NFL MVP candidate for the Philadelphia Eagles.

Will Williams be next in line? Only time will tell.

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Williams’ combination of physical and mental traits is hard to come by and makes him a fairly easy evaluation.

A lot can happen in the next 18 months, but a strong finish to his 2022 season could give Caleb Williams a comfortable lead over the rest of the 2024 QB class which includes North Carolina’s Drake Maye, Wake Forest’s Sam Hartman, Texas’ Quinn Ewers, Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy, and Jaxson Dart of Ole Miss.

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Lincoln Riley's loyalty to Alex Grinch can't exceed his loyalty to Caleb Williams and the USC offense

Story originally appeared on Trojans Wire