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Who is Caleb Williams? The NFL's No 1 Draft pick being compared to Patrick Mahomes

The Chicago Bears announced Caleb Williams as their quarterback of the future with the No 1 overall pick at the 2024 NFL Draft; Watch round two of the 2024 NFL Draft live on Sky Sports Action from 12am in the early hours of Saturday

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Caleb Williams completed this outstanding 74-yard touchdown pass to receiver Brenden Rice last season

Every team in the NFL wants a Patrick Mahomes. The Chicago Bears hope they have got one of their own.

Whether a burden or blessing, Caleb Williams entered the 2024 Draft as the latest superstar college quarterback prospect and perhaps the first to draw legitimate comparisons to the three-time Super Bowl champion.

The Bears let their intentions be known earlier this offseason when they traded quarterback Justin Fields to the Pittsburgh Steelers just three seasons after drafting him, paving the way for general manager Ryan Poles to use the No 1 pick on Williams.

Chicago has been awaiting its answer at quarterback with which to propel the Bears back into perennial contention. They may now have their man.

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Speaking on Inside The Huddle, Jeff Reinebold says Caleb Williams will be under huge pressure to deliver as No 1 pick


Williams finds himself sitting somewhere among the likes of Trevor Lawrence, Andrew Luck and Cam Newton when it comes to the most recognised, talked-about and anticipated quarterback prospects in recent years. As was the case with Lawrence, his name has been on the nation's footballing radar since a young age.

Perhaps unsurprising when you monitor his running style, Williams played at both running back and linebacker as a young child before turning to quarterback in the fifth grade. He starred at Gonzaga College High School on the way to guiding the team to a District Championship as a sophomore in 2018 while winning District Player of the Year after passing for 2,624 yards and 26 touchdowns as well as rushing for 394 yards and 10 scores. Having seen his senior year cancelled due to Covid, he became a five-star recruit and the No 2 quarterback prospect of his class behind Quinn Ewers before committing to the University of Oklahoma.

Upon teaming up with Lincoln Riley he went on to leapfrog Spencer Rattler as the Sooners' starting quarterback midway through the 2021 campaign and went 5-2 while throwing for 1,912 yards and 21 touchdowns to four interceptions before entering the transfer portal in January 2022. He eventually reunited with Riley, who had departed a month before to take the head coaching job at USC.

Also See:

Caleb Williams accolades

  • Heisman Trophy winner (2022)
  • Unanimous First Team All-American (2022)
  • Walter Camp Player of the Year (2022)
  • AP Player of the Year (2022)
  • Pac-12 Player of the Year (2022)

Live NFL Draft

Why is everybody talking about him?

It can be all too easy to toss the Mahomes label at any young quarterback who might show any kind of proclivity for torching opponents out of structure with playmaking imagination, play-extending invention and convention-challenging arm angles. With Williams, there is some substance to the comparisons.

Destruction via controlled chaos can often be the prevailing sell to Williams and a lead component behind links to a certain Kansas City Chiefs quarterback. Flick on the game tape and one of the immediate selling points is his ability to stick and slide with poise and feel in tight pockets, coupled with the explosiveness to escape pressure and make off-platform throws with consistent accuracy and conviction while out-of-structure.

Rarely do his eyes drop as he navigates oncoming pressure or as he rolls out to extend plays in search of secondary route separation from receivers. When the ball does come out, it does so with unerring zip, touch and anticipation from both a settled base and when off-balance.

His arm talent passes the eye test with the precision and power to attack all levels of the field, fizzing quick-release passes into short and intermediate avenues as well as comfortably taking the top off a defense to flip the field in one play. He looms as the ultimate playmaker, armed with the Mahomes-esque gift to improvise through absurd arm angles with which to squeeze passes through traffic and around bodies.

In working with Lincoln Riley he thrived while operating from a heavy zone read and RPO offense, showcasing the headache he poses for defenses as they are forced to contemplate his threat as both a passer and runner. Among the few blemishes might be a tendency to keep hold of the ball for too long in faith of his scrambling capabilities, but consistent decision-making suggests further development in that department. His 33 career fumbles, 16 of which came in 2023, meanwhile point to his aggression in a bid to make every play matter - not atypical of a young quarterback and something he can comfortably iron out with experience.

Williams can wriggle out of danger and deliver perfect throws, he can weave between defenders as a dynamic rushing threat, he can diagnose defenses and make slick pre-snap reads, he can dissect tight windows, he, crucially, has the statistics to speak to mature ball security as a passer despite the fearlessness with which he operates. He has the potential to be an immediate franchise-lifter, opening the door to a new era for a Bears organisation that has tried and failed in their search for a long-term solution under center.

The numbers

Caleb Williams bio

College USC
Born November 18, 2001 (Aged 22)
Hometown Washington, D.C.
Height 6'1"
Weight 214lbs
Arm 32"
Hand 9 3/4"

Williams leaves the college stage having completed 735 of 1,099 passes for 10,082 yards and 93 touchdowns to just 14 interceptions across three seasons, alongside 289 carries for 960 yards and 27 end zone visits as one of the most accomplished dual-threat quarterback prospects to enter the NFL in recent memory.

He became the seventh Heisman Trophy winner in USC history in 2022 as well as winning Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year after throwing for 4,537 passing yards and a school-record 42 touchdown passes to just five interceptions in addition to a single-season quarterback school-record 382 rushing yards.

His 2023 might have demonstrated an even better version of him as Williams recorded a career-best completion percentage of 68.6 after finishing 266 of 388 passing for 3,633 yards and 30 touchdowns to five interceptions while rushing for 136 yards and 11 scores.

From a profile standpoint, the enormity of Williams and his reputation reportedly earned him around $10m in NIL money and endorsements over his final two seasons at USC after signing deals with the likes of Dr. Pepper, Nissan and Wendy's, according to The Athletic.

USC quarterback Caleb Williams is expected to be the No 1 pick at the NFL Draft
Image: Can Williams guide the Bears to contention?

What else?

Besides being a fierce competitor on the field, Williams has championed individuality and expression away from it.

The Bears quarterback sparked intrigued at the women's NCAA basketball tournament when he was pictured sporting a pink iPhone case and painted nails, the latter of which he had explained was down to his mother's job as a nail technician.

"It started, I would say, three years ago," Williams previously said. "It was my last year of high school. My mom does nails. Let's just start it off there. She's done it my whole life. It's just kind of always been around me. Nobody else does it. I just kinda like to do new things."

Williams also has his own foundation named Caleb Cares, focused around anti-bullying, mental health awareness and youth development.

What have people said?

Sky Sports NFL expert Jeff Reinebold: "For Ryan Poles, this might be his last Draft and last first-round pick if this doesn't go right. They brought in Justin Fields, that didn't work and now they're onto Caleb Williams. If this doesn't work I believe there will be a changing of the guard in Chicago. There is a lot of pressure on this young kid. It will be interesting to see how he plays in Chicago, a team that was built on defense and toughness, this is a Hollywood guy. You don't wonder about the arm talent or athleticism, you wonder about how this is going to play."

NFL Network Draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah: "He is a natural thrower and delivers the ball with accuracy/velocity from a variety of platforms and arm angles. He can power the ball into tight windows while stationary or on the move. He can also finesse the ball when needed. He has lightning-quick hands in the RPO game. He's a dynamic runner and makes defenders look silly in space. He can run by you, through you or make you miss. His creativity makes him special, but he will need to play more on schedule at the next level."

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Speaking on the Inside The Huddle podcast, Neil Reynolds and Jeff Reinebold discuss which teams they think could choose to trade their draft picks

Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Poles: "When you talk to his teammates, they don't like him, they love him. His leadership, how he brings people together. He's intentional with his leadership. Same goes with the staff. I'm having a hard time finding a person that doesn't like him or even love him and thinks that he can reach the highest limits."

USC head coach Lincoln Riley: "You turn on the tape and it's not real hard to figure out that this guy can do some pretty special things. Sometimes I think people turn on the highlights and think he's this reckless player that's this gunslinger, honestly he's not. At times, even early in his career, he was even maybe more conservative than I wanted him to be, but he always valued taking care of the ball, always had a patience that was even better on gameday than on the practice field. It's going to be very important as the windows tighten down in that league and as you face the type of pass rushers he's getting ready to face, but to show he's already had that ability at a young age bodes well."

What awaits him in Chicago?

The Bears sought to upgrade their welcome package for Williams earlier this offseason as they bolstered an offense that ranked 21st in EPA/play last season.

In one of the marquee deals of the year, Chicago secured the services of Keenan Allen in a trade that saw them send a fourth-round pick to the Los Angeles Chargers, where the veteran wide receiver had posted 1,000 yards in six of 11 seasons since being drafted in 2013. He joins a receiver room that already includes D.J. Moore, who made 96 catches for a career-high 1,364 yards and eight touchdowns in his first year in Chicago after arriving as part of the trade that enabled the Carolina Panthers to move up and draft quarterback Bryce Young at No 1 overall in 2023.

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Jeff Reinebold believes JJ McCarthy is not receiving the credit he deserves due to the strength of the team around him at Michigan

Dual-threat running back D'Andre Swift also signed a three-year $24m deal with the Bears in free agency after delivering a career-best 1,049 rushing yards and five touchdowns from 229 carries as part of Nick Sirianni's RPO-heavy scheme with the Philadelphia Eagles. Tight end Cole Kmet - who had a career-high 719 receiving yards last season - is now also joined by veteran Gerald Everett following his stint with the Chargers.

Watch round two of the 2024 NFL Draft live on Sky Sports Action from 12am in the early hours of Saturday.

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