Is Caleb Williams the best QB prospect ever?

Does Caleb Williams need to live up to the hype after his Heisman Trophy-winning season? Or is he already a lock for the first overall pick?

LOS ANGELES — Over the past three decades, three quarterbacks left college being described as true ‘no-brainer’ first overall picks: Peyton Manning in ’98, Andrew Luck in ’12, and Trevor Lawrence in ’21. While there has been a profusion of other notable quarterbacks of distinction to arrive on the scene, the three aforementioned players top the list.

In this upcoming 2023 season, USC Trojans QB1 Caleb Williams boldly enters the ‘no-brainer’ conversation and thereby warrants comparison to the great quarterbacks.

Many fans, analysts, and commentators wondered, as they previously had about Lawrence, if Williams had been allowed to leave after his sophomore season, would he have gone first overall to the Panthers?

Like fellow Pac-12 legend Luck, Williams combines his effortless throwing ability, athleticism, and elite IQ to stymie defenses. Like Manning? Well, we can boil it down to one word: pressure.

Manning, a three-year starter at The University of Tennessee, possessed a last name football fans had grown very familiar with. Known as ‘The Sheriff’, he had to endure more pressure to meet expectations as a college athlete than many professional athletes ever have to deal with in their careers.

Although he’s not the son of Archie Manning, Caleb Williams has his own unique set of pressures. Many thought Caleb would be the next great OU QB, another magnificent product of Lincoln Riley’s ferocious offensive scheme.

Still tethered to coach Riley, Williams now heads into his second season under center for the Trojans. While he may not play like Manning, being the Heisman winner on a team that is playoff-or-bust and the presumed top pick, Williams is under the same level of pressure as the legendary ‘Number 18’.

There are no givens or absolutes in the sport of football. Which team obtains the first pick in a given year, the players on that team, health concerns and a myriad of other factors can determine how well or poorly a professional football player’s career develops.

For every Manning, there’s a Leaf. For every Luck, there is a Griffin III. For every Lawrence, there is a milf-hunter. That said, Caleb Williams must be mentioned in the same breath as these greats. He deserves to be considered ‘a lock’ for the first pick heading into August. Caleb Williams has already achieved ‘can’t-miss’ status.

College football fans will follow this season and hope Williams achieves legendary glory. Still, even if he falls somewhat flat, it would be undeniably shocking not to see him be the first player taken in next year’s NFL Draft; he truly is that good.