Who is Caleb Williams? The NFL's next superstar quarterback being compared to Patrick Mahomes

Every team in the NFL wants a Patrick Mahomes. The Chicago Bears hope they are about to get one of their own.

Whether burden or blessing, Caleb Williams enters the 2024 NFL draft as the latest superstar college quarterback prospect and perhaps the first to draw legitimate comparisons to the three-time Super Bowl champion.

The Bears let their intentions be known earlier this offseason when they traded quarterback Justin Fields to the Pittsburgh Steelers just three seasons after drafting him, paving the way for general manager Ryan Poles to use their number one pick on Williams.

Chicago has been awaiting its answer at quarterback with which to propel the Bears back into perennial contention. They might be about to get their man.


Williams, 22, finds himself sitting somewhere among the likes of Trevor Lawrence, Andrew Luck and Cam Newton when it comes to the most recognised, talked-about and anticipated quarterback prospects in recent years.

As was the case with Lawrence, his name has been on the nation's footballing radar since a young age.

Perhaps unsurprising given his running style, Williams played at both running back and linebacker as a young child before turning to quarterback in the fifth grade (aged 10-11).

He starred at Gonzaga College High School on the way to guiding the team to a District Championship as a sophomore in 2018 while winning District Player of the Year after passing for 2,624 yards and 26 touchdowns as well as rushing for 394 yards and 10 scores.

Having seen his senior year cancelled due to COVID-19, he became a five-star recruit and the number two quarterback prospect of his class behind Quinn Ewers before committing to the University of Oklahoma.

He became starting quarterback midway through the 2021 season and went 5-2 while throwing for 1,912 yards and 21 touchdowns to four interceptions before entering the transfer portal in January 2022.

Why is everybody talking about him?

It can be all too easy to toss the Mahomes label at any young quarterback who might show any kind of proclivity for torching opponents out of structure with playmaking imagination, play-extending invention and convention-challenging arm angles. With Williams, there is some substance to the comparisons.

Destruction via controlled chaos can often be the prevailing sell to Williams and a lead component behind links to a certain Kansas City Chiefs quarterback.

Flick on the game tape and one of the immediate selling points is his ability to stick and slide with poise and feel in tight pockets, coupled with the explosiveness to escape pressure and make off-platform throws with consistent accuracy and conviction while out-of-structure.

Rarely do his eyes drop as he navigates oncoming pressure or as he rolls out to extend plays in search of secondary route separation from receivers. When the ball does come out, it does so with unerring zip, touch and anticipation from both a settled base and when off-balance.

His arm talent passes the eye test with the precision and power to attack all levels of the field, fizzing quick-release passes into short and intermediate avenues as well as comfortably taking the top off a defence to flip the field in one play. He looms as the ultimate playmaker, armed with the Mahomes-esque gift to improvise through absurd arm angles with which to squeeze passes through traffic and around bodies.

In working with University of Southern California (USC) coach Lincoln Riley, he thrived while operating from a heavy zone read and RPO offense, showcasing the headache he poses for defences as they are forced to contemplate his threat as both a passer and runner.

Among the few blemishes might be a tendency to keep hold of the ball for too long in faith of his scrambling capabilities, but consistent decision-making suggests further development in that department.

His 33 career fumbles, 16 of which came in 2023, meanwhile point to his aggression in a bid to make every play matter - not atypical of a young quarterback and something he can comfortably iron out with experience.

Williams can wriggle out of danger and deliver perfect throws, he can weave between defenders as a dynamic rushing threat, he can diagnose defenses and make slick pre-snap reads, he can dissect tight windows, he, crucially, has the statistics to speak to mature ball security as a passer despite the fearlessness with which he operates. He has the potential to be an immediate franchise-lifter, opening the door to a new era for a Bears organisation that has tried and failed in their search for a long-term solution under center.

Caleb Williams: The numbers

College: University of Southern California (USC)
Born: 18 November, 2001 (age: 22)
Hometown: Washington DC
Height: 175cm (6 feet 1 inch)
Weight: 97kg (214lbs)
Arm: 81cm (32 inches)
Hand: 25cm (9 3/4 inches)

Williams leaves the college stage having completed 735 of 1,099 passes for 10,082 yards and 93 touchdowns to just 14 interceptions across three seasons, alongside 289 carries for 960 yards and 27 end zone visits as one of the most accomplished dual-threat quarterback prospects to enter the NFL in recent memory.

He became the seventh Heisman Trophy winner in USC history in 2022 as well as winning Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year after throwing for 4,537 passing yards and a school-record 42 touchdown passes to just five interceptions in addition to a single-season quarterback school-record 382 rushing yards. a school-record 42 touchdown passes alongside 4,537 passing yards.

His 2023 might have demonstrated an even better version of him as Williams recorded a career-best completion percentage of 68.6 after finishing 266 of 388 passing for 3,633 yards and 30 touchdowns to five interceptions while rushing for 136 yards and 11 scores.

From a profile standpoint, the enormity of Williams and his reputation reportedly earned him around $10m in NIL money and endorsements over his final two seasons at USC after signing deals with the likes of Dr Pepper, Nissan and Wendy's, according to The Athletic.

Can Williams guide the Bears to contention?

Besides being a fierce competitor on the field, Williams has championed individuality and expression away from it.

The soon-to-be Bears quarterback sparked intrigued at the women's NCAA basketball tournament when he was pictured sporting a pink iPhone case and painted nails, the latter of which he had explained was down to his mother's job as a nail technician.

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"It started, I would say, three years ago," Williams previously said. "It was my last year of high school. My mom does nails. Let's just start it off there. She's done it my whole life. It's just kind of always been around me. Nobody else does it. I just kinda like to do new things."

Williams also has his own foundation named Caleb Cares, focused around anti-bullying, mental health awareness and youth development.

What have people said?

Sky Sports NFL expert Jeff Reinebold: "There is a lot of pressure on this young kid. It will be interesting to see how he plays in Chicago, a team that was built on defense and toughness, this is a Hollywood guy. You don't wonder about the arm talent or athleticism, you wonder about how this is going to play."

NFL Network Draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah: "He is a natural thrower and delivers the ball with accuracy/velocity from a variety of platforms and arm angles. He can power the ball into tight windows while stationary or on the move. He can also finesse the ball when needed. He has lightning-quick hands in the RPO game. He's a dynamic runner and makes defenders look silly in space. He can run by you, through you or make you miss. His creativity makes him special, but he will need to play more on schedule at the next level."

Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Poles: "When you talk to his teammates, they don't like him, they love him. His leadership, how he brings people together. He's intentional with his leadership. Same goes with the staff. I'm having a hard time finding a person that doesn't like him or even love him and thinks that he can reach the highest limits."

USC head coach Lincoln Riley: "You turn on the tape and it's not real hard to figure out that this guy can do some pretty special things. Sometimes I think people turn on the highlights and think he's this reckless player that's this gunslinger, honestly he's not."

All three days of the 2024 NFL Draft from 25-27 April are live on Sky Sports Action, beginning with round one from 1am in the early hours of Friday morning.