Friday, April 19, 2024

Caleb Williams Bears Scouting Report: The Modern-Day Houdini

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Holding the #1 pick in the NFL draft almost always means a quarterback will be selected. The only question is which team will make the pick and which quarterback they’ll pick. If the Chicago Bears stay put this year and don’t trade back, it will mark the first time in franchise history that they will take a quarterback #1 overall. Pretty wild, considering they’re one of the oldest franchises in the NFL. What remains uncertain is who GM Ryan Poles has in mind for that spot. Most believe it is USC’s Caleb Williams.

The 6’1, 215-lb quarterback from Washington D.C. carved out a stellar career across three seasons between Oklahoma and Southern California. He finished with 10,082 yards, 93 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions. Hype has followed him since the moment he stepped on the field as a freshman, leading a huge comeback win over Texas. So, it’s time to explore what kind of player he is.

A look at where Caleb Williams stands in the 2024 NFL draft

Strengths:

  • No complaints about the arm strength. He can flick it 50-60 yards without much issue.
  • His accuracy stands out because it’s there at all levels. He can put it anywhere he wants when he wants, from bubble screens to back shoulder fades to vertical shots.
  • Not only can he vary the speeds of his throws, but he can adjust the arm angle to help open throwing windows, too—a rare trait to have.
  • While not an elite runner, he has plenty of mobility to create big plays with his legs, both as a scrambler and on designed runs.
  • His playmaking instincts are second to none. Unbelievable ability to make stuff up on the fly when a play breaks down. Constantly forces defenses to be on high alert.

This play is quintessential Caleb Williams. Under normal circumstances, this results in a sack and a big loss. Instead, the quarterback has the presence of mind to pick the ball up, not panic, stand up to the rush, see the open man, and effortlessly chuck it for a 76-yard touchdown. Most quarterbacks don’t have the ability or aggressive mindset to pull something like this off.

  • Shows a willingness to stand in the pocket even when pass rushers are swarming around him. Doesn’t immediately search for running lanes.
  • Generally makes good decisions throwing the ball. He will scramble or throw the ball away if nobody is open.
  • Shows good feet to sidestep the rush when somebody comes up the middle. Rarely does the deer in headlights look in those situations.

Weaknesses:

  • Suffers from Justin Fields syndrome at times. Holds the ball longer than he should, hoping for somebody to come open. Not always willing to move to the next play.
  • At 6’1, he’s below average in terms of preferred height for an NFL quarterback. That could make it difficult for him to see open guys, especially over the middle.
  • His field vision isn’t consistent. Sometimes he’ll do a good job finding the open man. Other times he completely misses them.
  • Carries the ball like a loaf of bread, which is a bad habit pro defenders will constantly exploit for strip-sacks.
  • The feet tend to get restless at times. He must learn to calm them in the pocket, especially if he’s going to throw with better timing and rhythm.
  • Most of his time in college was spent almost exclusively in the shotgun. So it may take an adjustment period before he gets comfortable under center.
Pro comparison: Brett Rodgers

The best way to describe Williams is to combine the out-of-structure wizardry (and sometimes carelessness) of Brett Favre with the excellent accuracy and ball placement of Aaron Rodgers. Understand that this is not a declaration he will have the same careers those two had. It is a statement that he has the same potential. The trick will be whether the team that drafts him has the necessary structure to help him reach those levels. He has the capability. He needs patience, a QB-friendly offense, and a good supporting cast.

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Projection: Top 5

It is easy to understand the hype around Caleb Williams. He has such a deep toolbox, from arm strength and accuracy to mobility and natural instincts for making something out of nothing. Guys like that tend to do well in the NFL unless they are completely mismanaged. Is he a “generational” player, as some have said? No. However, he is definitely better than many quarterbacks who have gone at the top of the draft in previous years. Somebody should and will take him early.

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Beardown54
Feb 9, 2024 5:14 pm

lol, Um ok Barry

barry_mccockiner
Feb 9, 2024 12:22 pm

I mean, yeah, more or less. We absolutely should expect Williams to do things that haven’t been done before, because that’s what a “generational talent” does.

Don’t you expect Superman to fly?

BearDownTX
Feb 9, 2024 8:00 am

I finally agree with !!!! How in the world does this description of Williams remind anyone of Fields. It talks about accuracy and being able to evade in the pocket.
I’m not talking about the pure God given athleticism Fields does when he spins out of 10 tackles to run for 20 yards. I’m talking about the gift of feeling the pocket, sliding to avoid a rush, while still delivering the ball downfield to a receiver on time and in stride. I have yet to see that from Fields.

Arnie
Arnie
Feb 8, 2024 10:35 pm

@Beardown54 I was just adding a comment to an earlier discussion being had here. Given the hype, level of excitement and confidence some are expressing for Caleb Williams becomes a Bear, a fellow doubter or two suggested that with where the Bears are drafting him, what they are sacrificing by not trading down to continue building the team, and all that, then a Super Bowl run is the reasonable expectation. But, you’re right, that’s never been done before, so we should settle for the 13-0 record and losing to the better team, quarterbacked by Mister Irrelevant in the NFC championship.… Read more »

Beardown54
Feb 8, 2024 9:45 pm

BTW–Cowher’s book, Heart of Steel, is a great book about leadership and talks a little about that Big Ben SB team.Its a good read.

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