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Caleb Williams is not a Franchise-Changing Quarterback

Photo Courtesy of Caleb Williams Instagram
Photo Courtesy of Caleb Williams Instagram

The 2024 NFL Draft was one of the most exciting drafts for Bears fans. Making just their third first overall pick in franchise history, Chicago also became the 21st team to have two top-ten picks. A draft night that was highly anticipated by Bears fans ended in what most would consider a success. 

The Bears addressed the quarterback situation by taking Caleb Williams first overall. Even though Williams is an extremely high rated prospect, there are a lot of factors that point to disappointment. Williams might not be the solution to the quarterback drought in Chicago. 

This pick was expected by nearly every NFL follower. After trading three-year QB Justin Fields to the Pittsburgh Steelers, the extremely gifted passer in Caleb Williams was the obvious choice. Or was it? 

For the last eight months or so, Caleb Williams has been the top rated QB in the class of 2024, and has been highly praised by NFL scouts and analysts. 

“The arm talent oozes off the film, and he is a special playmaker when things break down,” Bleacher Report NFL Scout Derrik Klassen said. 

While film and gameplay can offer a lot of insight on a player, there are factors being overlooked that should be considered when discussing William’s potential. With no doubt, Williams is a talented passer. But the assumption he is the answer to Chicago’s problems might not be the case. 

The first thing that stands out is the drop off Williams had from his sophomore season to his junior season. The last two years of Williams’ collegiate career took place at USC after he transferred from the University of Oklahoma before his sophomore year. After leaving the BIG-12, Williams now took on PAC-12 competition. Williams wasted no time winning a Heisman trophy his sophomore year, putting together a 4500 yard-300 completion-40 touchdown campaign to overshadow all other finalists. This impressive season put Williams on notice while also raising his standards for the 2023 season. But unlike his sophomore year, Williams didn’t even finish in the top ten in passing yards. This makes sense as he only attempted 388 passes in 2023, ranking him 30th in pass attempts. But Williams’ Passer Rating was still third amongst first round QBs behind Oregon’s Bo Nix and LSU’s 2023 Heisman winner Jayden Daniels. While I wouldn’t necessarily consider this a bad thing, Nix and Daniels don’t receive nearly as much love as Willaims. So what makes Williams that much better than the other two? 

Aside from the decrease in his passing numbers, Williams lacked improvement in other important categories. In 2023, Williams took 33 sacks, which was three more than the previous season, making him the 12th most sacked QB that year. In comparison to his Heisman-winning season, he ranked as the 25th most sacked QB. Coupled with a season where William’s pressure-to-sack rate was 4.6 percentage points higher than his career average, William’s showed no improvement dealing with pressure in 2023. Even though William’s is known for his ability to extend the play, high-level quarterbacks understand when it’s time to throw the ball away. His problems not only come from sacks, but they also come from his slow time to throw. Williams took an average of 3.21 seconds to throw the football in 2023. When compared to Bears former starting quarterback Justin Fields, that’s only 0.02 seconds faster than Fields’ 2023 average. Fields ranked last amongst the 31 qualifying quarterbacks in the time to throw metric. 

Whether you loved him or hated him, watching Fields hold the ball as he tried to make a miracle play was extremely angering. Now with Williams set to take the field, Bears fans might just see a replica of Justin Fields in the pocket. 

The thing that is most worrying is the lack of defensive competition William’s faced this year in the PAC-12. Out of all the power-5 conferences, the PAC-12 was the worst in defending the pass this year. Not a single team from the PAC-12 had a top-50 defense in passing yards allowed. No wonder Williams, Nix, and Penix Jr. had such an easy time throwing the ball this year. There was no defensive back play in the conference. In his only game against a dominant non-conference team against Notre Dame, Williams only threw for 199 yards and tallied 3 interceptions. When Williams finally played a competitive, well-coached defense, it’s safe to say he did not perform. Again, Williams has extreme arm talent, but the PAC-12 lacked the defensive talent and schemes Williams will need to understand in order to succeed in the NFL.

Outside of William’s ability to throw, he doesn’t offer anything else to the table. He doesn’t seem to have any leadership skills or humility. People can say performance is all that matters, but professional organizations would disagree, especially those looking for a franchise-altering quarterback.

 At the end of the USC-Washington game in 2023, Williams was found crying in his mother’s arms immediately following the loss. Athletes cry all the time after losing big games, but no athlete jumps into the stands to be cuddled by their mother. As the projected first overall pick, there needs to be the level of composure NFL teams are looking for. 

That type of behavior raises the question, “Is Williams emotionally fit to lead an NFL franchise?” While actions like that are embarrassing, Williams’ arrogance makes everything more comical. 

When asked about not throwing at the NFL combine, Williams replied with, “I played around 30-something games I believe. Go ahead and watch real live ball of me and see how I am as a competitor.” 

Following his pro-day at USC, Williams had an interview on the Pivot Podcast where he compared himself to the other QBs in the draft, “If you look at the stats, I am the most dead center even dude for scrambling and throwing in the pocket… I am farthest from all of them in every single way,” he said. 

As far as character and behavior goes, Caleb Williams is flat out embarrassing. When things don’t go his way, he looks like a child. But when it’s time to talk about his talents, there’s nothing but arrogance. It seems like you never know what you’re going to get with Williams, and that’s concerning nonetheless. Hopefully he can outgrow his character and get right to developing into the franchise quarterback Chicago needs.

So why did the Bears draft Williams? 

Overall, the Bears’ decision on who to draft wasn’t as much of a toss up as it might seem to some. Out of the six first round QBs, only three of them made sense for the Bears. Michael Penix Jr. and Bo Nix will both be entering their rookie season at the age of 24, which is a little too old for a team needing a franchise quarterback. As for J.J. McCarthy, success was found as a system quarterback at Michigan. While there is a place for system QBs in the NFL, for example Brock Purdy in San Francisco, the raw talent of the remaining QBs was enough to dismiss McCarthy as an option. At that point, the Bears were left with Williams, Daniels, and Drake Maye from the University of North Carolina. And rightfully so, all three of those names were drafted in the top three. At the end of the day, the top three could’ve been drafted in any order. The Bears just made a decision they felt would best compliment their improved, threatening offense. 

Now that Caleb Williams is a Bear, a lot of fans are excited for what he has to offer. But right now, Williams doesn’t look like the remarkable prospect everyone makes him out to be. While I hope I am wrong, I don’t think Caleb Willaims is a franchise-changing quarterback. There are just too many problems and worries Williams proposes. Maybe from now until week one we will see development, but for now, another wave of suffering might be starting for Bears fans. 

 

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About the Contributor
Ryan Valentincic
Ryan Valentincic, Staff Writer
Junior Ryan Valentincic is excited to be a first-year writer for The Forest Scout! Ryan is a member of the football team and baseball team. Outside of school, Ryan enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling, and watching sports.
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