Bears Select Caleb Williams No. 1 Overall

The Bears had the top pick in the draft for the second straight year but this time they kept it, and to the surprise of nobody, selected quarterback Caleb Williams.

My Take: Williams is a Year-1 starter with perennial All-Pro potential, but he enters the NFL as a boom/bust candidate based on lofty expectations and criticisms of being a system quarterback. He, Malik Nabers, and Rome Odunze are ranked equally on my board, a hair below Marvin Harrison Jr. This will be a very successful draft for Ryan Poles if the Bears get two of those four.

Here’s what our own Rick Leen said about Williams in his pre-draft analysis:

  • “Williams is number one for many analysts and for plenty of reasons. Williams has the elite arm talent you want and can make any throw. He’s a solid decision-maker with only 14 interceptions in three years at Oklahoma and USC. Williams reads defenses well enough and can move through his reads quickly, but he did have moments of getting stuck on the first read. A depleted offensive line caused some chaos in 2023, leading to some trust issues and leaving the pocket too early at times, but Williams is elusive in the pocket and can take off for a chunk of yards. There will be questions about the level of competition he was up against because he didn’t face the NCAA’s best defenses often. Williams might not have had a lot of opportunities to show out against the best, but throwing for over 10,000 yards is impressive regardless.”

The 22-year-old former Heisman Trophy Winner was the consensus top quarterback in the draft, and the Bears signaled their intention to select him when they traded Justin Fields to the Steelers. Williams will come to Chicago with high expectations but he’s already earned the trust of the front office, the coaching staff, and many of his new teammates. GM Ryan Poles is obviously a big believer in his new quarterback, and Williams lands immediately in the center of Chicago’s football universe. The Bears next pick at No. 9 overall.

Strengths (via

  • Forced to keep his team in games with high-end production and did so.
  • Better consistency projected with pro targets who separate.
  • Rapid-fire transition from fake to throw-on RPOs.
  • Twitchy release helps generate heat on drive throws.
  • Puts enough pace on the ball to challenge safeties to a variety of spots.
  • Will reset his pocket to create better throwing angles.
  • Much improved at getting air under deep throws in 2023.
  • Touchdown-to-interception ratio of 46:1 in red zone since the start of the 2022 season, per Pro Football Focus.
  • Keeps his eyes and arm alive when leaving the pocket.
  • Rare talent to feel pressure, escape, and extend the play.

Weaknesses (via

  • Averse to playing throw-and-catch football on schedule.
  • Eyes can become sticky and sluggish working through progressions.
  • Must learn to throw with better anticipation/timing on the NFL level.
  • Hero-ball mentality creates indecisiveness and inconsistent decision-making.
  • Disconcerting deep-ball accuracy in QB-friendly offense.
  • Will throw on the move unnecessarily rather than platform up.
  • Passes up easy scramble yardage for more challenging throws.

Fun Fact

Wishes do come true, apparently, though I believe Williams will be sporting a different jersey number.

Here’s his final draft analysis per Keith Sanchez of The Draft Network:

“Williams operates in a Lincoln Riley RPO/vertical passing offense that uses quick game while also taking shots down the field. On RPO-designed plays, [he] has shown the ability to execute the mechanics of the [option] scheme flawlessly, quickly being able to get the snap, set his feet, and get the ball out of his hands. Williams has also shown that he can make throws from all platforms and arm angles to get the ball out accurately and timely.”

Here’s what the ESPN analysts said about Williams:

  • “Williams is a fabulous playmaker, and there are ‘wow’ throws all over his tape, even going back to his freshman season at Oklahoma. He’s incredible at escaping the pocket and making off-platform throws, excelling when plays break down. His improvisational skills are off the charts. It’s amazing how he can make the first defender miss and create first downs out of thin air. Williams has great field vision and throws dimes to receivers while under duress. He’s very creative, which is not something we can usually say of quarterbacks.” – Mel Kiper Jr.
  • “Williams’ elite improvisational talent, arm strength, and ability to pick defenses apart from within the pocket set him apart from the rest of the 2024 class. He has the foot speed to evade pass-rushers in tight spaces and the strength to break tackles. His ability to extend plays, adjust his arm angle, and make accurate off-platform throws puts great stress on defenses on each snap. Williams is also a patient pocket passer who gets through his progressions given time and space. He presses and tries to make too much happen on some plays but has rare playmaking instincts; he can get away with some questionable decisions.” – Steve Muench
  • NFL Comp: Aaron Rodgers
  • ESPN Rank: 1
  • ESPN Grade: 97
  • Last Year’s No. 1 Pick: Bryce Young
  • Bears Top Pick in 2023: Darnell Wright
  • Caleb Williams Money Quote: “As the saying goes, the legends live on. That’s my goal of playing football — it’s not money, it’s not fame. It’s to be immortal. I want to reach that sense of being a legend.”
  • Caleb Cares: Williams started a foundation to fight bullying, empower youth, and raise awareness for mental health. He says he created the foundation to help those who feel like they don’t fit in and teach them how to step into their greatness.



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