National Football League
Caleb Williams looks the part of future NFL franchise QB
National Football League

Caleb Williams looks the part of future NFL franchise QB

Updated Sep. 7, 2023 2:15 p.m. ET

It is rare for a Heisman Trophy winner to live up to the hype as an NFL prospect, but USC's Caleb Williams might be the exception to the rule. 

After dazzling the football world in 2022 with a remarkable performance that resulted in another bronze statue in the trophy case at Heritage Hall, the 6-foot-1, 215-pound Williams is cementing his case as the frontrunner to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft with an impressive set of performances to kick off his junior campaign. 

Though the competition has been less than stellar, Williams' 73.5 percent completion rate and 9-0 touchdown-to-interception ratio suggest his game is on another level after posting a 66.6 percent completion rate and a 42-5 touchdown-to-interception ratio in 2022. With Williams averaging 12.2 yards per pass attempt (up from 9.1 in 2021 and 2022), the USC standout's robust numbers suggest that he has retained his aggressiveness while becoming a more efficient playmaker from the pocket.

Studying the tape from his impressive outings against San Jose State and Nevada so far this season, Williams makes the game look easy. He picked apart the Spartans defense an assortment of quick-rhythm throws at short and intermediate range. Williams' pinpoint accuracy within the pocket and on the move enabled the Trojans to utilize the quick game and RPOs to exploit the soft defensive looks featured by the Spartans. 


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While Williams' on-schedule plays were pulled straight from the textbooks, his improvisational magic sets him apart from others at the position. Whether it is running around on the perimeter dropping "dimes" on bootlegs and rollouts or scramble tosses while eluding and evading pass rushers in a collapsing pocket, Williams has a knack for hitting receivers in stride on off-platform throws. Watching the USC third-year player make blind tosses around or over defenders reminds me of Patrick Mahomes working his magic on opponents weekly. 

While I am not ready to proclaim Williams a future two-time MVP, there are enough similarities between their games to envision the Heisman Trophy winner making his mark as a franchise quarterback. 

Against Nevada, those improvisational skills were on display as he danced around and delivered "dime" after "dime" against the Wolf Pack. Williams' accuracy, instincts and athleticism make him a nightmare to defend for 60 minutes. Moreover, he appears rarely fazed or rattled by a chaotic pocket. Given Williams' calm and cool demeanor in the face of a ferocious pass rusher, there are few questions or concerns about his composure and poise under pressure.

As Williams takes on a larger role within the offense as the "check with me" specialist in Lincoln Riley's offense, scouts will have a chance to fully evaluate his leadership skills and overall command as a field general. The reigning Heisman Trophy winner is an alpha leader with a "dawg" temperament (highly competitive, tough-minded mentality) that will fit into any locker room. 

Can Caleb Williams repeat as Heisman winner?

From a critical standpoint, it is hard to poke holes in the game of a quarterback with a 66.4 percent career completion rate and a 72-9 touchdown-to-interception ratio over 27 games. Williams has thrived as a playmaker since stepping in as a freshman at Oklahoma before transferring to USC after Lincoln Riley's hiring. His consistency, reliability, and dependability as a QB1 is precisely what most coaches and executives covet in a franchise quarterback. 

Though scouts will point out his tendency to hunt for big plays disrupts the timing and rhythm of a passing game that is designed to get the ball out of the hands of the quarterback, Williams' success as an explosive-play producer with minimal turnovers makes it easy to live with the occasional progression errors. The junior playmaker is a blue-chip player with the tools to thrive in any system. 

As executives and scouts search for the next quarterback prospect with the potential to elevate an NFL franchise like Mahomes. Williams' swagger, playing style, and playmaking ability could make him the crown jewel of a very intriguing 2024 quarterback class.

Bucky Brooks is an NFL analyst for FOX Sports. He also breaks down the game for NFL Network and as a cohost of the "Moving the Sticks" podcast. Follow him on Twitter @BuckyBrooks.

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