Bears get close look at QB prospect Caleb Williams during USC pro day

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USC held its pro day on Wednesday and gave NFL coaches, scouts and front office personnel an up-close-and-personal look at one of the 2024 NFL Draft’s top prospects, quarterback Caleb Williams.

Williams demonstrated some of the skills that helped him win the Heisman Trophy in 2022 and had time to meet with the franchise that holds the No. 1 pick in the 2024 draft, the Chicago Bears.

“It was great,” he said. “I didn’t really need to learn much. Just building a relationship. They’re trying to see if I’m the right fit to be the first pick as QB and possibly be the face of the franchise.

“They’re trying to figure out if this is the guy there should invest all the time, energy and money into. Which is obviously important in this situation. So it was great building relationships.”

The Bears are in the market for a new starting quarterback after trading Justin Fields to the Pittsburgh Steelers this month.

Fields spent most of the past three seasons as Chicago’s starting quarterback and led the franchise to a 10-28 record in those games.

The Bears have been active this month, adding free-agent running back D’Andre Swift, who rushed for more than 1,000 yards in 2023, and acquiring Pro Bowl wide receiver Keenan Allen via a trade with the Los Angeles Chargers to upgrade their roster.

Williams said he has an existing relationship with Allen.

“To possibly be able to have him as a wide receiver coming off his best year, all the knowledge that you could gain from somebody like that is great,” Williams said.

Who was in attendance to watch Williams?

While Williams’ performance was the most significant storyline of the day, who came to take a look at the presumptive No. 1 pick was also a compelling storyline to monitor. General manager Ryan Poles, head coach Matt Eberflus and offensive coordinator Shane Waldron were among those in attendance for the Bears, as well as Allen, Chicago’s newest wideout. The Commanders also sent general manager Adam Peters, head coach Dan Quinn and offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury, who spent last season at USC. So the teams at the top of the draft had some serious representation on hand to watch Williams. — Antonio Morales, USC beat reporter

What we saw from Williams

Much like Ohio State wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr., we really didn’t need a full-on batch of pro day testing to confirm what we know about Williams. His film trumps everything else.

However, the value of a pro day — or a QB throwing session in Indianapolis — is for GMs and scouts to get live eyes, hopefully from the field level, on Williams’ arm one last time before making a final evaluation. Is the ball exploding out of his hands, is his footwork clean and second nature and are there any hitches or problems with his delivery?

For a player as improvisational as Williams, there’s only so much we can glean from a throwing session like this. Some tend to overreact to these things: See Zach Wilson and Trey Lance. However, when watching some of Williams’ throws Wednesday, the first thing that pops off is that, yes, his arm is that explosive.

He casually launched a go route that covered about 70 yards in the air before landing perfectly into the arms of his wide receiver in stride, drawing some “oohs” from the crowd.

At this point, it’s more about team interviews and medical testing from those who decide to bring Williams in. We’ve seen all we need to see at this point. — Nick Baumgardner, senior writer/NFL Draft analyst 

(Photo: Michael Hickey / Getty Images)

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