Why Caleb Williams not throwing at combine won't impact Bears' QB evaluation

Why Caleb Williams not throwing at combine won't impact Bears' QB evaluation originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Caleb Williams won’t throw or workout this week at the 2024 NFL Scouting Combine, but that’s unlikely to move the needle one way or the other for general manager Ryan Poles and the Bears.

Williams, the 2022 Heisman Trophy Winner and presumptive No. 1 overall pick, is still expected to go through interviews with teams this week in Indianapolis and speak with the media on Friday. That’s the most important step as the Bears try to plot their course forward at quarterback this offseason.

“I've got a lot of confidence in our ability to see talent on the field,” Poles told the media at his end-of-season press conference in January when asked about the most important part of the QB evaluation process. “The human being we've got to figure out. Especially being a quarterback in this city, you've got to have it right. You've got to have toughness, you've got to have mental toughness, you've got to be able to block things out. So really I've got to find out about the human beings.”

Williams is just the latest in a line of top prospects to forgo throwing at the combine in favor of the scripted, controlled environment of their pro day. Andrew Luck, Matthew Stafford, Robert Griffin III, Bryce Young, Sam Darnold, Joe Burrow, and Kyler Murray all did not participate in drills at the combine.

LSU’s Jayden Daniels also will not throw or participate in workouts this week at the combine.

Those already critical of Williams and the “generational” tag some evaluators have pinned on him will try to use this as a negative. That Williams is skirting an opportunity to prove he’s as head and shoulders above the rest of a good quarterback class as many believe. Playing the ultimate cutthroat position, shouldn’t he want to put on a show that blows Drake Maye and J.J. McCarthy away?

In reality, Williams doesn’t need to throw for teams at the combine or at his pro day. He has three years of tape to point to as proof that he can play the position and make throws at a high level. What will having Williams throw against air show that the tape from the past two seasons at USC – seasons that saw him throw 72 touchdown passes and only 10 interceptions – did not?

Williams not throwing at the combine will zero impact on whether or not the Bears decide to draft him at No. 1 overall come April 25.

What matters over the next two months is how the Bears get to know him as a person. How does he perform in their first sit-down with him this week? They’ll meet several times after, including at Williams’ Pro Day and a likely top-30 visit to Halas Hall. Another private workout will probably also be in the cards.

The Bears will spend the next two months trying to get a good sense of who all the top quarterbacks are as people. What makes them tick? How do they perform under pressure? Can they lead?

The football portion is already on tape. Poles is confident his staff can identify the best talent. The hard part is making sure the person matches up with the film.

The in-person interview Williams has with the Bears this week will be far more valuable than watching him throw to receivers he’s never worked with on Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium.

The Bears know Williams can spin it. His on-field resume speaks for itself.

They just have to figure out if he’s made of the right stuff to do it for them in the Chicago pressure cooker. That fact-finding mission has nothing to do with how Williams looks throwing in shorts on a February day in Indianapolis.

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