All eyes are on Bears after Caleb Williams’ pro day

Ric Tapia - The Sporting Tribune
The Sporting Tribune's Fernando Ramirez on USC quarterback Caleb Williams' pro day performance solidifies his top draft spot.

LOS ANGELES — All 32 teams gathered at Allyson Felix Field to watch USC quarterback Caleb Williams’ pro day.

Some teams don’t need a quarterback. They were there to see players like receiver Brenden Rice, running back MarShawn Lloyd, and safety Calen Bullock, to name a few.

When Williams stepped on the field, the scouts, coaches, and general managers parted like the Red Sea to watch him throw.

It was a smooth day of over 50 passes thrown, with about four hitting the ground.

“I wanted to come out here and put on a show,” Williams said. “I think it went well.”

There was a pass between Williams and Rice where the receiver did a deep in route, and his quarterback hit him in stride. That was Williams’s best completion.

After deciding not to throw at the NFL Combine last month, there was much interest in his performance on Wednesday.

The Chicago Bears have the number one pick and they had GM Ryan Poles, head coach Matt Eberflus, and recently acquired receiver Keenan Allen.

When Williams walked into the stadium for his pro day, the first person he went up to was Allen, with whom he has a history.

“To have the GM and the coach here in to watch me…is really cool,” Williams said. “I’ve known Keenan for probably a year now, hung out with him a few times, so for me to possibly be going to the same team as him is exciting.”

Allen has experience helping a rookie quarterback grow into a superstar when the Los Angeles Chargers drafted quarterback Justin Herbert 6th overall in 2020.

The Washington Commanders had a strong presence with GM Adam Peters, head coach Dan Quinn, and offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury in attendance. Kingsbury and Williams have a history, as the new Commanders OC was the Trojans Senior offensive analyst last season.

There may not be a reunion for them because, barring any changes, all things point to Williams being selected first overall by the Chicago Bears.

“It’s not a thought in my mind,” Williams said. “I don’t think I’m not going to be No. 1. I’ve put in all the hard work. I don’t think of a Plan B.”

Williams confirmed that he had met with the Bears brass earlier this week.

“I don’t think I really need to learn much,” Williams said of their meeting. “Just build a relationship.”

The former Heisman Trophy winner leaves USC having thrown for 10,082 passing yards and 93 touchdown passes while adding 27 rushing TDs.

USC has produced four first-round quarterbacks since 2000: Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart, Mark Sanchez, and Sam Darnold (Leinart and Sanchez were in attendance). Williams is expected to be number five, as he was the second-first overall pick out of USC (Palmer).

Now, the ball is in Chicago’s court. Their offense features running back D’Andre Swift, tight ends Cole Kmet and Gerald Everett, and receivers Keenan Allen and DJ Moore.

They need a quarterback.

Will it be Williams? That is the biggest question. 

They have made some questionable decisions in the past. In 2017, they selected Mitch Trubisky as third overall, with Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson on the board.

Last year, they traded away the first overall pick to the Carolina Panthers with Bryce Young and CJ Stroud there for the taking. Thanks to that trade, the Bears ended up with the first overall pick after a 2-15 season.

Last week, they traded quarterback Justin Fields to the Pittsburgh Steelers for a future sixth round pick after selecting him 11th overall after a trade with the New York Giants in 2021. It will be interesting to see who will be the first overall selection.

Chicago is on the clock.

“This is something I’ve been waiting for and dreaming for and working for it,” Williams said. “I’m excited and I’m ready. And the things I’m not ready for, I’ll be ready.”