Name: Caleb Williams
Weight: 215 lbs
Games watched: vs. Arizona (2022), vs. Oregon State (2022), vs. Washington (2023), vs. UCLA (2023), vs. Notre Dame (2023), vs. Utah (2023)
One of the most highly-touted prospects to enter the draft in recent years, Williams is the 2022 Heisman winner who most view as a potential franchise savior. The hype around him has built up to Trevor Lawrence's proportions. For the most part, the highs have lived up to the hype. Unfortunately, the lows mostly focus on the Trojans losing five of their final six games for a bitter end to his prolific college career. Still, Williams is one of the best prospects in this draft class and has likely shown us just about all we are going to get when it comes to an evaluation. He will not be participating in USC's bowl game and I don't expect him to be a part of the college all-star circuit. He is the level of prospect who could even skip throwing at the combine, opting to showcase his skills one last time at his pro day. Interviews at the combine will be crucial for him with some not-so-great optics around him skipping news conferences towards the end of the season after losses, but we in the media will not be privy to what goes on in those conversations.
His stats are truly eye-popping. Williams finishes his college career with 10,082 passing yards, 93 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in two-plus seasons as a starter for Oklahoma and USC. His 66.9 percent completion percentage is solid as well. Add in 944 "NCAA official" rushing yards (remember, the NCAA counts sacks as negative rushing yards for a player) and 27 touchdowns and you have a well-rounded, dual-threat quarterback.
What will stand out to most when watching Williams is his elite arm talent and incredible escapbability. He can hit any spot on the field, making throws from various arm angles and off-platform when needed. His deep ball is so pretty, traveling up to 65 yards in the air from what I saw on film. He is also an unrivaled scrambler. I mean truly unrivaled. Williams does not scramble to run, he scrambles to give himself more time to pass. He makes defenders look foolish trying to catch him. He has great burst when he changes direction or spins out of the pocket. His ability to throw on the run is impressive as well. He holds onto the ball too long, which I will talk about more below, but some of those time-to-throw numbers are inflated because he is so elusive. Even though he needs to get rid of the ball quicker, he has a really good sense for where pressure is coming from and when to bail out of the pocket. Playing outside of structure is where he thrives. He is more quick than he is fast, but he can turn on the jets in the open field. More than capable of picking up tough yardage as well and lowering his shoulder. That being said, he is smart about protecting himself, not being reckless. He picks and chooses when to fight for those extra yards.
Much of the negative in Williams' game is nitpicking at this stage, but there are things he will legitimately need to work on at the next level if he wants to be successful. I already touched on him holding the ball too long. He has to trust his first read, especially against one-on-one coverage over the middle of the field. His ability to play out of structure is fantastic, but he needs to improve at taking what is there when it is there rather than extending plays over and over in hopes of making a spectacular one. His footwork is solid, but he can be sloppy at times, particularly when he is trying to get the ball out quickly. His release is clean, but his throwing motion can afford to get a little more compact. Williams displays good pocket presence, but will get caught slide out of the pocket unnecessarily after he has been pressured a few times in a game. He definitely has a bit of a Superman approach, trying to fit in throws against double coverage or with throws back across his body. He is talented enough to make up for the questionable decisions, but they catch up with him from time to time.
Williams is one of the most talented quarterback prospects we have seen in the past five years. He rivals Trevor Lawrence for poise, polish and production. He will draw comparisons to Patrick Mahomes with his play style and penchant for making miraculous plays against the grain. He is the model for modern-day quarterback play with a great arm and high-end mobility. He will need to improve his decision-making and learn to play for the next down. Despite his incredible athleticism, Williams must learn to be more selective with when he chooses to put his body on the line, because it will catch up with him in the NFL. Much like Kyler Murray, his productivity greatly decreases if he is forced to play exclusively from the pocket.