Friday, April 19, 2024

USC Has Served The Chicago Bears Well In The 1st Round Before


One thing people often do with draft prospects is connect them to the programs they play for and make assessments of their NFL chances based on that. This is especially true for the quarterback position. There was tons of backlash at the Chicago Bears when they took Mitch Trubisky in 2017. After all, no North Carolina quarterback had ever done anything in the NFL. The same was true for Ohio State quarterback when they took Justin Fields in 2021. It is a safe assumption people will do the same with Caleb Williams coming from USC.

Let’s just say the program has a checkered history at the position. Only one drafted in the 1st round ever went on to have a good pro career. That was Carson Palmer. Since then, it’s been a series of busts with Matt Leinart, Mark Sanchez, and Sam Darnold. Williams hopes to break that streak. If the Bears do select him at #1 as many predict, he’ll have one thing in his favor. This franchise has had good fortune taking players from USC in the 1st round.

Mike Hull (FB, 1968)

Became a lead blocker for Gale Sayers during his last 1,000-yard season in 1969. Helped the Bears to the #1 rushing attack in 1968. Later became a lead blocker for eventual MVP Larry Brown in 1972, helping the Washington Redskins reach their first Super Bowl.

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Keith Van Horne (OT, 1981)

Stepped in as the starting right tackle from the beginning. He would go on to play in 186 games, all with the Bears. During that span, he contributed to four #1 rushing attacks, helped Jim McMahon to a Pro Bowl, and won a Super Bowl championship in 1985.

Mark Carrier (S, 1990)

He set a franchise record with the most interceptions ever by a rookie, with 10 in 1990. Carrier had 20 interceptions and 10 forced fumbles over seven seasons in Chicago, making three Pro Bowls. His only misfortune was arriving at a time when a once-great team was already in decline.

Curtis Conway (WR, 1993)

At one point in time, Conway was on track to become one of the Bears’ all-time best receivers. He had back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons in 1994 and 1995. Sadly, quarterback problems and injury setbacks later in the decade led to him never quite reaching his full potential.

The Chicago Bears have curiously avoided USC for years.

They have not drafted a single player from that school since 1999. What’s amazing about that is the school went on to win multiple national championships during the drought, producing loads of future NFL stars. Among the names the Bears had a chance to draft but passed on including Troy Polamalu, Jurrell Casey, and Amon-Ra St. Brown. Williams could be the first player they take from that school in a quarter century. If their current trend holds, there is a reasonable chance he ends up becoming at least a good player for the team.

What makes this entire situation even more interesting is the man who’s led this process. Reese Hicks is the Chicago Bears’ west coast area scout. That means the Williams evaluation has fallen primarily on his shoulders since May of 2022, when he received the promotion. While the choice isn’t just on him, it is fascinating to see the organization put its potential future in the hands of somebody with such limited experience. Hicks has more data on Williams than anybody else in the building. His evaluations likely kickstarted the entire process.

Here is hoping he knew what to look for.


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Feb 18, 2024 12:15 pm

I still don’t think that Williams is the best qb in the draft. These experts are trying so hard to recreate Mahomes just like they tried too hard to create Brady. I don’t think Williams is the best qb fit for the system either

Feb 18, 2024 10:19 am

@Dr. Melhus
Bad Penny, Bad Bunny it means that Williams will be great. (i.e. nonsense).

Feb 18, 2024 10:16 am

The PAC 10 quarterbacks have not transitioned easily to the NFL. Most have not seen the quality of complexity of defenses and pass rush seen in other conferences. Packers did well with Rodgers (from Cal), probably because they sat him for years and ACTIVELY coached him while he was sitting. Most teams don’t actively coach their non-first string players. Looking at the direction of coaching hires each season, I do think the NFL trend is to increase the size and quality of their coaching staffs, but first time coordinators and coaches, don’t do well, unless they either come from great… Read more »

Feb 18, 2024 9:55 am

None of these players have been worth a first first. Just looked at the draft order of NFL teams again, and other than Washington and New England, teams looking for quarterbacks only have draft positions 6-11 (if NY wants to ditch Daniel Jones). Unless Chicago feels forced to draft Williams to thwart Washington, of compel Washington to trade up one spot, Chicago won’t get the haul they had last year in swapping only one position. If they go down to 6 or lower, they’ll probably collect that team’s 1st this year, and 2 – 1sts in the next few years,… Read more »

scott brs
scott brs
Feb 18, 2024 8:56 am

Dr. Melhus, Mcnown went to UCLA

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