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Bears 2024 position preview: Quarterback


The following is the first of nine position previews in advance of training camp.

The development of promising rookie quarterback Caleb Williams—the No. 1 overall pick in the draft—will be a top storyline throughout training camp.

The consensus top prospect in a draft stocked with talented quarterbacks, Williams produced 120 touchdowns in three seasons at Oklahoma (2021) and USC (2022-23) and won the Heisman Trophy in 2022. The 6-1, 215-pounder appeared in 37 college games with 33 starts, completing 66.9% of his passes for 9,782 yards and 93 touchdowns and rushing for 966 yards and 27 TDs on 289 carries.


Step into Bears territory

The Bears selected Williams with a pick they obtained last year in a blockbuster trade with the Panthers. General manager Ryan Poles swapped the No. 1 choice in the 2023 draft for star receiver DJ Moore and four picks that have yielded Williams, right tackle Darnell Wright, cornerback Tyrique Stevenson and punter Tory Taylor. In addition, the Bears possess Carolina's 2025 second-round pick as the final part of the deal.

The Bears have carefully crafted a plan to put Williams in the best position to excel. When he arrived at rookie minicamp in May, he had already been introduced to the offense—including terminology and concepts—during his top-30 visit to Halas Hall and had worked out with veteran receivers Moore and Keenan Allen. The Bears also helped Williams prepare by collaborating with his private quarterback coach, Will Hewlitt.

"The development of Caleb in terms of what he's gotten to do this offseason has been outstanding," coach Matt Eberflus said in June, "taking him from knowing just a little bit about the scheme from that Pro Day at USC all the way to where he is now, and it's really good. He's been able to really refine his understanding of the scheme."

First-year offensive coordinator Shane Waldron told reporters last month that working with Williams during the offseason confirmed "a lot of the things that we gathered during the draft process: his competitive nature, his willingness to learn, his desire to know 'the why' on everything that is happening so that he's not just out there robotic trying to just run a play; he's out there really learning it, really understanding it."

The Bears expect Williams to keep ascending in training camp. He was anointed as the team's starting quarterback before even practicing for the first time and should continue to benefit from taking first-team reps against one of the NFL's best defenses.

Backup plan

After showing promise last year as an undrafted rookie from Division II Shepherd University in West Virginia, Tyson Bagent returns as the Bears' No. 2 quarterback. Last summer he beat out veterans P.J. Walker and Nathan Peterman for the backup role before winning two of his four starts in place of the injured Justin Fields.

Bagent appeared in five games as a rookie, completing 65.7% of his passes for 859 yards with three touchdowns, six interceptions and a 71.4 passer rating. The 6-3, 213-pounder also rushed for 109 yards and two TDs on 23 carries.

At Shepherd, Bagent set the record for most touchdown passes across all NCAA divisions with 159. He won the Harlon Hill Trophy as the Division II National Player of the Year in 2021 and was named Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference East Player of the Year in 2022.

During the offseason, the Bears added two quarterbacks who will compete for backup spots, signing fifth-year pro Brett Rypien and undrafted rookie Austin Reed.

Rypien has appeared in 10 NFL games with four starts over four seasons with the Broncos (2020-22) and Rams (2023). He has completed 58.3 percent of his passes for 950 yards with four touchdowns, nine interceptions and a 59.9 passer rating.

Rypien entered the NFL in 2019 as an undrafted free agent with the Broncos out of Boise State. He played in eight games with three starts over three seasons in Denver from 2020-22 before making one start with the Rams last season.

Reed posted a 38-15 record as a starter over four seasons at West Florida (2019 and 2021) and Western Kentucky (2022-23), passing for 14,488 yards with 138 touchdowns and 36 interceptions and rushing for 636 yards and 20 TDs on 220 carries.

After redshirting at Southern Illinois in 2018, Reed transferred to West Florida and led the Argonauts to the Division II national championship, passing for 4,084 yards and 40 TDs. In 2022, he was voted Conference USA Newcomer of the Year and chosen second-team all-conference at Western Kentucky after throwing for 4,744 yards and 40 touchdowns and rushing for 224 yards and eight TDs on 91 carries.

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