The Bears Will Fail the First-Overall Pick Caleb Williams

From the 257 picks in the National Football League (NFL) draft, Caleb Williams was a long-awaited first overall pick. Williams was born in November 18, 2001 and later attended Gonzaga High School where he would be named the Washington post All-Metropolitan First Team and the Washington D.C Gatorade Player of the Year in 2018. As a sophomore, he led Gonzaga to the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (WCAC) Championship and threw for 1,685 passing yards, 14 passing touchdowns, and eight rushing touchdowns.

With major success throughout highschool, Williams later attended the University of Oklahoma where he led the Oklahoma Sooners to an 11-2 season record. Williams first shined on the field against long-time rivals, Texas Longhorns, where they were losing 35-17 under Quarterback Spencer Rattler. However, during the second quarter, Rattler was substituted for Williams who led the team 55-48. From then on, Williams would start the next seven games of the season. During these seven games, Williams had a 64.5 pass completion percentage, 1,912 passing yards, and 21 touchdowns, while only throwing four interceptions. Williams would go on to win numerous awards; namely the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback and FWAA’s Shaun Alexander Freshman of the Year awards, an All-Big 12 Second Team selection by AP, an honorable mention All-Big 12 pick by the league’s coaches.

After a year with the Sooners, Williams would then go on to play for the University of Southern California Trojan. During the 2022 season, the Trojans had an overall record of 11-3, while holding a 8-1 record in the Presidents’ Athletic Conference-12 (PAC-12) conference. Although the Trojans lost a devastating 47-24 against the Utah Utes in the championship, Williams’s efforts throughout the season had not gone unnoticed. Williams continued to win the Heisman trophy and was recognized as the 2022 DC Touchdown Club Player of the Year, AP College Football Player of the Year, PAC-12 offensive player of the year, First Team All-PAC-12 Conference, and the First-team Associated Press All-American, to name a few. During the season, Williams led the Football Bowl Division (FBS) with 42 touchdowns, a 66.6 pass completion percentage, and an extraordinary 4,537 passing yards.

After his exceptional 2022 season, Williams still performed sufficiently, leading the Trojans to a mediocre 8-5 record in the 2023 season. Although the Trojans had won its first consecutive six games, it ended the final seven games going 1-6 and finishing the season unranked. However, by being an honorable mention of the All-PAC-12 and ranked top ten in the FBS from having a 68.6 pass completion percentage, 3,633 passing yards, and 30 touchdowns, Williams still proved to be a first overall contender in the 2024 NFL draft.

While Williams was recently drafted first overall in the 2024 season to the Chicago Bears, there are many speculations about Williams’s competency in the NFL. Having ten rushing touchdowns in the 2022 season, and 11 in the 2023 season, NFL sports-analyst and commentator Lance Zierlein highlighted Williams’s versatility on the field. Although Williams has a mediocre physique, relative to the average NFL player, standing at 6 ‘1, 214 pounds, Zierlein explained how Williams is able to exploit the defense and the pocket to make outstanding plays throughout the season.

Zierlein said, “It is admirable that he looks to keep his eyes up and make throws outside the pocket, but he’ll make things easier on himself early in his pro-career by becoming a more decisive scrambler to move the sticks and carry on to the next set of downs.”

Former football player and current General Manager of the Chicago Bears added onto Zierlein’s point, saying how William “got special instincts, awareness, especially in the pocket to manipulate the pocket, get in and out of the pocket, spatial, a feel for space is special. That’s his special sauce. Then once we kind of speed things up and start to identify different coverages”.

However, ex-fullback Merrill Hoge disagreed with the claims that named Williams an All-Star. In an interview with VSiN, Hoge emphasized that Williams lacks extraordinary traits, rather his passes are inaccurate, he can not play from the pocket, and struggles throwing the ball off-movement.

Although Williams is a generational talent, many people are still wondering whether Williams will thrive with the Chicago Bears. Having drafted Justin Fields as the 11th overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft, the Bears have yet to capitalize off his talents. Throughout the 2021-2024 seasons, the Bears have gone on consecutive losing records, 6-11, 3-14, and 7-10, respectively, while being in the bottom ranks of their National Football Conference (NFC). During the 2021-2022 season, Fields threw for 1,870 yards with seven touchdowns and ten interceptions while being sacked 36 times. In his next season, Fields threw for 2,242 yards with 17 touchdowns and 11 interceptions while being tied for the most sacked quarterback for being sacked 55 times. In the most recent season, Fields threw for 2,562 yards with 16 touchdowns and nine interceptions while being the fifth most sacked quarterback by being sacked 44 times. Following a disappointing season yet again.

Although the Bears have drafted the two most sought-after quarterbacks since 2017 with Mitchell Trubisky being drafted second overall by the Bears in 2017 and Fields in 2021, the Bears have only made the playoffs twice over the last seven seasons. In 2018, the Bears lost in the first round to the Philadelphia Eagles 16-15, and in 2020, they lost in the first-round to the New Orleans Saints 21-9.

Although Williams may be a generational phenomenon, the Bears do not possess the resources to fully capitalize off of his talents. However, the 2024-2025 season might reveal a different story.