NFL Draft News & Analysis

2024 NFL Draft Scouting Report: QB Caleb Williams, USC

2T958PW LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 04: USC Trojans quarterback Caleb Williams (13) looks to throw the ball during a college football game between the Washington Huskies against the USC Trojans on November 04, 2023, at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, CA(Photo by Jordon Kelly/Icon Sportswire) (Icon Sportswire via AP Images)

• Natural arm talent: Williams can generate impressive velocity from multiple arm angles and platforms, and it never wavers. His film is littered with examples of that while he rolls left, right, backward, etc.

• A few bad habits: Williams got too much into the routine of playing “hero ball,” occasionally passing up easy positives while trying to make something spectacular happen.

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Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes


PFF Grades and Stats

  • 90.3 PFF overall grade
  • 6.2% big-time throw rate
  • 3.6 turnover-worthy play rate
  • 77.5% adjusted completion rate
  • 23.2% pressure-to-sack rate
  • 94.3 PFF clean-pocket grade
  • 41.6 PFF pressured grade

Background

Caleb Williams is a 22-year-old, 6-foot-1 and 215-pound quarterback from USC. Williams started his career at Oklahoma before transferring to the Trojans after his freshman year. Williams won the Heisman Trophy in his first season at USC after throwing for more than 4,500 yards and leading the team to an 11-3 record. In 2023, Williams captained the Trojans to a 7-5 record before declaring for the 2024 NFL Draft.


Strengths

Williams' arm talent is natural; it can’t be coached or replicated. He shows it with almost every throw. Many quarterback prospects are said to be able to “make every throw,” but it's an overused and often inaccurate assessment. For Williams, it's true. He can generate impressive velocity from multiple arm angles and platforms, and it never wavers. His film is littered with examples of that while he rolls left, right, backward, etc.

Quarterbacks who make plays out of structure can suffer in the accuracy department while not in a typical throwing stance. Williams' accuracy while moving is what sets him apart from other playmaking quarterbacks. He’s able to place the ball in spots only his receivers can get it — from almost any position. And he does it consistently.

Williams' playmaking ability is his calling card. In this era of quarterbacks who can get out of the pocket and make plays out of structure, it’s tough to find anyone better. No signal-caller in college, and very few in the NFL, is better than Williams at making pass rushers miss while keeping his eyes downfield ready to attack. This is where the Patrick Mahomes comparisons come into play. Mahomes is the best in the world at manipulating pockets to give himself space to either throw or take off and run, and Williams shows that ability on a near-down-to-down basis.


Weaknesses

That playmaking ability has its downsides, and far too often Williams relied on his out-of-structure ability to create positive plays for the USC offense. This “hero ball” mentality that he was forced to play in caused him to miss on some easy plays. Williams had 50 dropbacks with a time to throw of more than 6 seconds in 2023 — the most in college football.

Williams' constant need to play out of structure led to some bad habits and bad decisions. Too many times he would drop back square to the line of scrimmage, which can make it tougher to get to an ideal throwing position, but he did so because it helped set up defenders and lanes in the pocket to run. At times, he was too careless when trying to scramble, leaving the ball loose by his side and making it easier for pass rushers to knock it free. These are things that can be fixed when he doesn’t have to constantly think about scrambling.


Summary

It's a challenge to find a more talented athlete and quarterback than Caleb Williams. It’s why he’s been touted as the No. 1 overall pick for years now. His arm talent and playing ability are unteachable. He is the poster child for the new-age quarterback who can scramble and make plays that don’t seem possible while also working within the pocket and picking apart defenses.

Williams is not a perfect prospect, though, and the concerns about his reliance on out-of-structure plays are valid. He will need to be better at playing on time and taking the easy plays when they’re available. Meshing that with his ability to make something out of nothing is why teams and analysts can project his future as a top quarterback in the NFL.

Where I would draft him: No. 1 overall
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