USC Quarterback Caleb Williams Declares for 2024 NFL Draft

15 de ene, 2024, 3:18 pm ET

USC quarterback Caleb Williams will enter the 2024 NFL draft, he announced Monday on social media. The decision comes on the last day freshmen can testify.

Williams’ decision formalizes his status as the favorite to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 NFL draft. His formal entry now highlights the Chicago Bears’ offseason conundrum of keeping Justin Fields or trading him to (presumably) build around Williams.

USC Trojans quarterback Caleb Williams (13) runs down the field in a Heisman pose during the Pac-12 Conference championship game against the Utah Utes at Allegiant Stadium on December 2, 2022 in The Vegas, Nevada. Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire

Williams’ decision is not a big surprise. Since USC’s disappointing 2023 season ended, it had been clear that he would wait until the final day to make a decision, similar to how CJ Stroud waited until the final day to decide last year.

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The debate surrounding Williams in scouting circles is not whether he is the No. 1 pick in the draft, but rather whether he is considered a once-a-decade prospect or a generational one. Williams’ use of various arm angles, his improvisational magic and his ability to use his legs combine to create an intriguing package.

Williams won the Heisman Trophy at USC in 2022 and put together another solid season in 2023, even as USC’s record fell from a playoff contender’s 11-3 to a playoff contender’s 8-5 in the Pac-12. Williams completed 68.6 passes for 3,633 yards in 12 games in 2023, compared to 66.6 percent for 4,537 yards in 14 games the year before.

While Williams did not replicate his Heisman magic and the USC team’s performance fell, largely due to a listless defense, his consistent performance held up and his status as the best player and quarterback in this class is still secure.

ESPN surveyed a half-dozen scouts and executives on Monday, and none could see a scenario other than Williams being No. 1. “I’d be surprised if he wasn’t,” said one veteran scout. Another added: “He is the best player in the most important position.”

Williams finishes his career, including his freshman year at Oklahoma when he won the starting job over Spencer Rattler, with totals of 93 touchdowns, 14 interceptions and 10,082 yards in three seasons. He was 23-10 in his career as a starter and appeared in 37 total games, according to ESPN Stats & Info.

Williams also accounted for 21 rushing touchdowns in his two seasons at USC. Perhaps no statistic sums up his raw talent and potential better than him running 10 career games of five or more touchdowns. According to ESPN Stats & Info, only Patrick Mahomes had more in the College Football Playoff era.

Williams and former North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye entered the season as the projected No. 1 and No. 2 picks in the draft. Both teams had uneven seasons, but neither quarterback did anything to change that status. LSU’s Jayden Daniels walked away from that conversation with a resplendent Heisman Trophy season, as no quarterback did more to boost his stock than Daniels in 2023. A year after Alabama’s Bryce Young and Stroud were No. 1 and No. 2, the general expectation is that quarterbacks will once again fly into the top two spots. If two quarterbacks occupy the 1 and 2 spots, it would be the 10th time in NFL history that quarterbacks have occupied that position.

Williams gives the 2024 draft its top star, as the Bears’ selection decision will loom over the NFL in the coming months.

2024-01-15 20:18:00
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