Skip to main content
Advertising | The Official Website of the Chicago Bears

Bears Draft Report

Brought to you by

Bears draft QB Caleb Williams with No. 1 pick


The Bears on Thursday, as expected, selected USC quarterback Caleb Williams with the No. 1 choice in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Williams was widely considered the top prospect in a draft class loaded with talented quarterbacks. The 6-1, 215-pounder appeared in 37 college games with 33 starts over three seasons at Oklahoma (2021) and USC (2022-23), completing 66.9% of his passes for 9,782 yards with 93 touchdowns and 14 interceptions and rushing for 966 yards and 27 TDs on 289 carries.

Williams won the Heisman Trophy as a sophomore at USC in 2022, passing for 4,537 yards with 42 TDs and five interceptions and rushing for 382 yards and 10 TDs on 113 attempts. He also won the Maxwell Award and the Walter Camp Award as college football's top player and was named AP College Football Player of the Year and Sporting News Player of the Year.

Last year the Washington, D.C. native threw for 3,333 yards with 30 TDs and five interceptions and rushed for 142 yards and 11 TDs on 97 attempts.

The Bears selected Williams with a pick they obtained in last year's trade with the Panthers. The Bears dealt the No. 1 selection in the 2023 draft to Carolina in exchange for receiver DJ Moore, 2023 first- and second-round picks, a 2024 first-round selection that turned out to be No. 1 overall and a 2025 second-round choice.

While Ryan Poles watched hours of tape on Williams and the other top quarterbacks in the draft, the Bears general manager told reporters in late February that he intended to get to know them better as people during combine interviews, pro day workouts and top 30 visits to Halas Hall.

"The person is a huge part of it," Poles said at the time, reiterating comments he had made in his end-of-season press conference. "I've talked about that a lot. What's the makeup? The leadership? How do they handle pressure? How do they handle pressure in a big city like ours? A lot of those factors go in.

"It's time on task and just kind of getting to know the personality. There's been a ton of information gathering from my team just in terms of teammates, coaches, things like that, but you've got to spend time with another person to understand their wiring."

During that process with Williams, the Bears couldn't have been more impressed.

"When you talk to his teammates, they don't like him, they love him," Poles said. "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. The feedback's been good."

“He’s all ball, wants to work, wants to get better, wants to win as a team.” Bears GM Ryan Poles on QB Caleb Williams

Asked for an example of Williams' leadership, Poles said: "We look for guys that can bring others around. There's pros and cons in this NIL setup, but the cool thing is you do have some resources to take your O-line out to dinner. You see the Christmas gifts that the NFL guys do. So really bringing those guys together, spending that time, creating that bond is really what you're looking for in that position, and he's done that."

With the first pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, the Bears select USC quarterback Caleb Williams. Take a look at photos of Williams in action. (Photos via AP)

Before Williams' Pro Day March 20 in Los Angeles, he dined with a large Bears contingent that included Poles, assistant general manager Ian Cunningham, coach Matt Eberflus, offensive coordinator Shane Waldron, quarterbacks coach Kerry Joseph, passing game coordinator Thomas Brown and some USC receivers.

A main takeaway for Poles from that outing was that Williams is "really mature."

"One of my guys kind of bumped me on it, which I think is rare these days for a 22-year-old: he never touched his phone," Poles said. "Really intentional with his conversations and talking about his interests and things that he likes to do."

Later in the pre-draft process, Williams visited the Bears at Halas Hall.

"Just another touchpoint," Poles said. "I've done this over the years when guys come in, you can really do some installations, take a break, and then have them reinstall back to you just in terms of recall. Build relationships with coaches. Make sure that there's compatibility there."

During his visit to Chicago, Williams dined with a group of Bears veterans that reportedly included DJ Moore, Cole Kmet and T.J. Edwards. Asked about the impression that Williams made on the players, Poles said: "Really intelligent guy. Came across as a really good teammate, easy to talk to, down to earth."

"He's all ball, wants to work, wants to get better, wants to win as a team," Poles said. "That's the No. 1 thing for him on top of being successful. The biggest thing is, 'Does he fit in our culture and what we're trying to do?' And all signs were that he does, so that was positive."

During a recent appearance on "The Pivot Podcast," Williams was asked by co-host Ryan Clark about joining the Bears.

"I want to play in one place for 20 years, and chase one guy, No. 12 (Tom Brady)," Williams said. "I want a place that loves ball. That's all I've heard about Chicago so far, which is exciting for me."

Intending to chase an all-time great quarterback who has won seven Super Bowls is certainly a lofty goal for an incoming rookie. But Poles is fine with aiming that high.

"I love it," Poles said. "We all should have huge goals. We have huge goals here; win multiple championships, and that's what we shoot for. You're more intentional when you have these goals. You have to live a certain way; you have to practice a certain way in order to accomplish those. If everything else is in line underneath that, that gets me excited."

RELATED: Follow's Draft Central for the latest news, information and more on all the Bears' 2024 draft picks.

Related Content