Williams-Odunze Bromance and Bears Post-Draft Assessment

The 2024 draft is in the books and the Bears have made their most significant attempt to modernize their offense since signing Red Grange in 1925. The team still has its critics, however. The fanbase remains equally divided over Caleb Williams, you know because he’s a diva and all. You’d think that subset of Bears fans stormed the beach at Normandy in 1944. It’s a little-known fact that the average age of the team’s most avid supporters is in the 96-100 demographic. If Williams is good enough for Virginia McCaskey, however, he should be good enough for them.

Will Williams Be a Bust?

Fans with the ability to put aside social and fashion choices still take issue with Williams’ abilities. You cannot dismiss those talking points.

One of the biggest complaints about Williams is that he holds the ball too long. Pro Football Focus said Williams took 3.44 seconds to throw in 2022 and 3.21 in 2023. Justin Fields was often criticized for this issue and his average time to throw last year was 3.23 seconds according to NFL Next Gen Stats. It’s a troubling stat, I admit, especially at the next level, where processing speed is the key to success. Still, you can’t put that stat in a vacuum and then use it to say Williams will be a bust.

Pro Football Focus’ lead NFL Draft analyst Trevor Sikkema tried to put all of those concerns to rest by explaining why a quarterback with a release as quick as Williams does would be holding the ball so long. He explained it as simply trying to overcome his own team’s deficiencies. You could say that about Fields, but his slower release compounded his struggles.

“If you take away the plays in which they fully broke down and he was moved off of his spot…his time to throw within structure is exactly like everybody else’s,” Sikkema said on the NFL Stock Exchange podcast with Connor Rogers.

The time would have been around 2.5 or 2.6 seconds per Sikkema. Fields’ release time on “true attempts,” which is what Sikkema is talking about, was 2.94 seconds during his tenure with the Bears.  In fact, Fields has the highest average release time of any NFL QB with at least 150 career attempts between 2016-23. JF1 was also the league’s most-sacked quarterback. That three-tenths of a second is certainly a difference-maker.

I’m more concerned that Williams is on the small side. At 6-foot-1, he sits at the bottom 20% of quarterbacks measured at all combines. At 215 pounds, he’s in the bottom 25% of all NFL quarterbacks. The Bears drafted a signal caller of similar size and stature in 1999. That would be Cade McNown, and no data point exists that can make Williams physically bigger. He won’t get taller, but I assume the Bears will want him to bulk up a little.

Williams’ detractors will say he’s not any better than Fields. That’s not the case, but the jury is out until we see him taking live snaps in regular-season games.

The Caleb Williams-Rome Odunze Bromance

This is just the beginning of a great pairing if the two produce on the field.

How Good is Rome Odunze?

Odunze is fast and explosive and had 32 catches of 20-plus yards last season, which plays to Williams’ strengths. He also has a wide catch radius and is a monster when it comes to contested catches (70.8%). At 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds, he has both the length and strength to outmuscle NFL defensive backs for the ball with great consistency. Odunze would have been the first receiver taken off the board in any other draft. He was ranked sixth overall, and thanks to a little luck and a puzzling choice by the Falcons, Odunze fell to the Bears.

Odunze was most mocked to the Bears at No. 9, and that worked out nicely. He caught 92 passes for 1,640 yards and 15 scores in 2023. He also led the nation in deep catches (23), deep yards (783), and contested catches (21). Odunze finished in the 99th percentile vs. catch rate vs. single man, the 90th percentile in zone coverage, and the 95th percentile in yards-after-catch. He has the size, speed (4.45), and elite ball skills to make him a true playmaking threat. Odunze also said before the draft that playing with Williams would be special.

Bromance aside, Odunze will be Williams’ best friend on the field. He’s a reliable route-runner with good size and an accuracy-enhancing catch radius. Odunze can be a classic X-receiver who moonlights as a slot receiver from time to time thanks to his awareness and ability to play in traffic.

How Good is Chicago’s Offense?

Williams has some weapons, no doubt. His top three receivers are D.J. Moore, Keenan Allen, and Odunze. His tight ends are Cole Kmet and Gerald Everett. The turnover at both positions has been significant since Ryan Poles arrived in 2022.


  1. Darnell Mooney
  2. Byron Pringle
  3. Equanimeous St. Brown/Dante Pettis/Velus Jones
  4. Kmet
  5. Ryan Griffin


  1. Moore
  2. Mooney
  3. Tyler Scott
  4. Kmet
  5. Robert Tonyan

Let’s Reassess the Panthers Trade

We wondered aloud at this time last year if the Bears got enough value from the Panthers in their pre-draft blockbuster deal. Let’s reassess. Chicago received Moore, the Nos. 9 and 61 picks, a first-round pick in 2024, and a second-round selection in ’25. Chicago then traded the No. 9 pick to the Eagles for the 10th pick in 2023 plus a fourth-round pick this year. The Bears used the No. 61 pick to move up to No. 56, giving up a fifth-round pick to do so.

  1. Moore
  2. Darnell Wright (via Philadelphia)
  3. Williams (via Carolina)
  4. Tyrique Stevenson (via Carolina)
  5. Kiran Amegadjie (via Philadelphia)
  6. Carolina’s second-round pick in 2025

Note: Montez Sweat is not part of the haul, as some have been saying. Chicago gave up its second-round selection to acquire the veteran pass rusher. Cooper DeJean was selected at No. 40 overall, but the Commanders sent that pick to the Eagles in a draft day trade.

Here’s what Chicago gave up:

  1. Bryce Young (to Carolina via Chicago)
  2. Jalen Carter (to Philadelphia via Chicago)
  3. Brenton Strange (to Jacksonville via Carolina and Chicago)

Young had a poor season but showed improvement near the end. Nobody should give up on him, specifically Panthers fans. Carter had six sacks as a rookie and the Bears still lack a dominant defensive tackle. Strange started four games and caught five passes for 35 yards and one score. Yes, Chicago won the trade with Carolina by a wide margin, though we’ll have a better idea once all of those rookie contracts are up.

Field Position is an Important Statistic

The Bears selected punter Tory Taylor of Iowa in the fourth round. Yes, Poles raised some eyebrows, particularly because Chicago needs help on the offensive and defensive lines. That said, there were no starter-quality players available at either position. Taylor is also the second punter Poles has drafted in three years and will be an immediate starter.

The kid has a booming (and tireless) leg. Iowa had one of the worst FBS offenses last year, so Taylor broke an 85-year-old record for most punting yards in one season with 4,479. Trenton Gill is Chicago’s incumbent, and a 2022 seventh-round draft pick by the Bears. Gill was dead last in net average yards in 2023.

Winning field position; flipping field position; pinning the opponent deep in their own territory; red zone offense; driving a short field… these phrases all relate to an important concept in NFL football. Simply put, long, sustained drives put opposing offenses at a disadvantage.

Let me put it another way. NFL teams average 12-13 drives per game. Adding 5-7 net negative yards to those drives (the difference between Taylor and Gill) means (approximately) 60 to 100 yards in field position per game. The Bears were ranked 32nd in defensive starting position and tied for 29th in offensive starting position. That’s the difference between a 7-10 season and a playoff berth. Devin Hester showed us all the value in offensive field position. Taylor will have a similar impact on Chicago’s defense.

The Bears May Have Stolen a 2025 First or Second-Round Pick

Chicago selected Taylor with its final pick before trading back into the draft. Acquiring a fifth-round pick seems innocuous on the surface, but maybe not in this case. Poles acquired the pick from the Bills after initially trading it to Buffalo for Ryan Bates and used it to select Edge Austin Booker of Kansas.

Booker was ranked No. 83 overall by ESPN with a draft grade of 75, so he provided immense value in the fifth round. The edge rusher left Kansas a year early, and most analysts believe he would have been a late first or early second-round selection in 2025. Here’s what NFL analyst Steve Muench said about Booker:

“Booker started only one game in college and didn’t test as well as expected at the combine, but there are impressive flashes on tape. His length is one of his greatest assets, and it makes it tough for offensive linemen to get into his frame. As a pass-rusher, he shows explosive knock-back power and is smooth working inside when offensive linemen get caught on their heels. He doesn’t have elite bend or burst but occasionally wins with speed off the edge. Booker has active hands and the ability to slip blocks, and he chases with good effort as a run-defender. He’s lean but can shoot his hands and stack bigger blockers.”

It gets better. The folks over at NFL.com say Booker’s professional comp is Maxx Crosby. He’s a three-time Pro Bowl edge with 52 sacks in five years, including 27 since the start of the 2022 season. That’s a heist if Booker’s potential meets Crosby’s production.

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