Caleb Williams shows off skill set at USC pro day

ByPaolo Uggetti ESPN logo
Wednesday, March 20, 2024

LOS ANGELES -- In front of representatives for all 32 NFL teams, former USC quarterback Caleb Williams -- widely expected to be the No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming NFL draft -- showed off his skill set during his pro day Wednesday.

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

Teams on hand were able to see Williams, the 2022 Heisman Trophy winner, do something he hasn't done since the 2023 college football season ended: throw the ball.

At the NFL scouting combine this month in Indianapolis, Williams decided to forgo medical testing and measurements. He also did not throw or participate in any drills.

"I didn't feel the need to go out and throw," Williams said at the combine. "I played around 30-something games, I believe. Go ahead and go watch real-live ball of me and see how I am as a competitor."

Williams, a junior who declared for the draft on the final day he could, also said he was doing medical testing for in-team visits only, and wasn't even thinking about the possibility that he won't be the top overall draft pick.

"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."

During his three seasons in college -- one at Oklahoma and two at USC -- Williams accounted for 10,082 passing yards and 93 touchdown passes while also adding 27 rushing TDs.

After a sophomore season in which Williams burst onto the scene with 4,537 passing yards and 42 touchdowns while nearly leading USC to a College Football Playoff berth, he started to be discussed as a shoo-in for the top overall draft pick.

His potential as a franchise quarterback had scouts for every NFL team on hand Wednesday at USC, where Williams took his time to come onto a packed Allyson Felix Field

Once he arrived, Williams made his way to Chicago Bears wide receiver Keenan Allen, whom he hugged, before making his way around the field to greet USC coaches and staff who were also in attendance.

The Bears, who hold the No. 1 overall draft pick, sent a fleet of representatives that included general manager Ryan Poles and coach Matt Eberflus as well as Allen.

"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."

At one point while Williams warmed up on a different field, both Poles and Allen went to the sideline to interact with Williams' parents, including his dad, Carl.

Throughout the 50 or so pass attempts, Williams' timing and accuracy looked effortless, especially on throws across the field and in the move. Overall, only four balls hit the ground. Afterward, Williams was quick to diagnose the couple of throws he missed, detailing exactly why one needed more hang time and the other was just a bit behind his receiver.

Once the session was over, Williams finished by kicking a punt before greeting USC coach Lincoln Riley and the Bears' brass as well as Washington Commanders general manager Adam Peters.

Williams confirmed that he had met with the Bears in Los Angeles on Monday.

"I don't think I really need to learn much," Williams said of their interaction. "Just build a relationship."

Williams added that he's at a playing weight of about 217 pounds and has done work to prepare to take hits from far bigger defenders than he encountered in college.

Williams said he's trying to maintain perspective while also allowing himself to embrace the excitement of the moment.

"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."

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