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USC quarterback Caleb Williams is the talk of the NFL Scouting Combine

Nicholas Moreano Avatar
February 28, 2024

INDIANAPOLIS — Out of the 321 players attending the 2024 NFL Scouting Combine, Caleb Williams stands out above the rest.

As the projected No. 1 overall pick, of course there has been a lot of discussion on the USC quarterback. There’s has been everything from how Williams plays the quarterback position and the unique talent he possess to the off-field rumors that have been surrounding him in this pre-draft process.

One of those rumors is that Williams and his camp wouldn’t play for the Bears.

But the USC quarterback cleared that speculation with ESPN on Wednesday.

“If I get drafted by the Bears, I’ll be excited,” Williams told ESPN’S Pete Thamel. “If they trade the pick, and I get drafted by someone else, I’m just as excited. Speaking about Chicago, they have a talented team, a talented offense and defense. For anyone to be in that situation, I think they’d be excited.”

Williams also went on to say that he isn’t pushing any kind of agenda, and that it would be appealing to play in a city like Chicago. The 22-year-old quarterback has even started studying Chicago legends like Michael Jordan and Walter Payton, according to ESPN.

“I’m 22. I didn’t really get to see those players,” Williams said. “As the saying goes, the legends live on. That’s my goal of playing football — it’s not money, it’s not fame … it’s to be immortal. I want to reach that sense of being a legend. Being at the table … and having a rightful seat through hard work and energy and time I’ve put into this game that we all love.”

That hard work and energy resonates on the football field. On Wednesday afternoon inside the Indiana Convention Center, the defensive linemen and linebackers spoke to the media.

Here is what some of Williams’ former competitors had to say about him.

Laiatu Latu (UCLA) Defensive Lineman

What was it like playing against USC last season and specifically against Caleb Williams?

“I mean it was crazy. Getting after Caleb Williams I mean we didn’t really let him escape the pocket too much, you know. He made throws cause he’s a great quarterback, but it was great playing against him. I mean me and the twins (Grayson and Gabriel Murphy) had two-way gos pretty much all the time getting after him. And they would call as a spy. I mean we just really dominated that game.”

How does he challenge you as a defense, especially since he is a quarterback who is mobile and can obviously throw?

“As soon as you beat that first man, you gotta be ready for him to scramble. You got to be ready for him to escape the pocket and he does that very well. He’s really tough to get down as well.”

Bralen Trice (Washington) Defensive Lineman

How does a quarterback like Caleb Williams challenge an entire defense and your position?

“I go back to tackling being a huge thing, right, as a defense. A guy that can move around like that and has that lower half that is built like a running back. Has that mobility. It’s important that you get low and you tackle and you wrap up, so, yeah, a lot of tackles can be missed, a lot of sacks can be missed for sure, so you really got to be on your Ps and Qs on top of everything for sure.”

Edefuan Ulofoshio (Washington) Linebacker

What are some of the challenges of going up against Caleb Williams?

“First of all, like, you can’t get him down. That’s the first thing. The second one is he’s a very intelligent football player. What we tried to do in that game was mess up the pictures as much as possible coverage wise and he was still being able to dot them. We have a quarterback, very similar to Michael (Penix), where you can put the ball on the money, a dime, in very precise spots it makes it very difficult to stop that player. He’s definitely one of the most talented players I have gone against.”

What scares you more when he fights to stay in the pocket or when he gets outside?

“I think it’s just as bad. It’s just as bad. I think It’s worse when he is outside the pocket because now you’re covering both the pass and the run, and I as a linebacker can’t initially go down immediately because if I do, I penetrate my zone. And he’s a fast guy. He definitely would be able to gain some yards. When he is out the pocket, he is probably even more dangerous.”

Was his running game a little deceiving? It looks that way when you watch him on tape.

“Definitely. Definitely. I mean he just has a good way of like, a good feel of defenders … (he has) good escape pockets. He knows his lanes. He does try his best to keep the play alive and then he runs when he needs to, so it’s like a good mix. So you really don’t know, ‘Is he committing to the run? Or is he trying to see something open?'”

Gabriel Murphy (UCLA) Linebacker

In the game against USC last season, what were you trying to force him to do?

“With a guy like that that can pretty much do everything, it’s really just trying to contain him in the pocket, not let him get outside the pocket. He can make any throw on the field, so there is not really too much slowing him down. Just mainly trying to apply pressure like we did all year.”

Marist Liufau (Notre Dame) Linebacker

What do you remember about the game against USC and specifically playing against Caleb Williams?

“He’s really fast, really quick guy. We prepared all week for him, knowing how quick he is, and I played him two years in a row. Was able to contain him a little more the second time this past season. We just emphasized his quickness and his ability to escape pocket and make plays with his feet.”

Zion Tupuola-Fetui (Washington) Linebacker

What were some of the challenges you had when you faced Caleb Williams last season?

“He just sees the field differently than a lot of people. Very explosive athlete, very explosive mind. You see some of the passes he makes, very few guys at least in college that are making those throws. I think there is really no right answer in terms of if you have to face a pocket quarterback, right? You’re like, ‘Get him on the run.’ Face a running quarterback, ‘Keep him in the pocket.’ He’s both. You know what I’m saying? You want to keep him in the pocket, that’s fine. He’ll stand there for eight seconds, spin around four times and you know throw a 60-yard strike. At the same time you get him on the run, his ability to run the ball is pretty nuts and what he sees out there and then one flick of the wrist the ball is going to an explosive receiver like Tahj (Washington) or something like that. I don’t think he is a guy that you plan to contain, he’s a guy that you plan to slow down.”

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