Ranking Weapons for QBs Drafted First Overall: Where Do Caleb Williams and the Bears Land?

DJ Moore. Keenan Allen. Rome Odunze. Will Caleb Williams have the best set of offensive weapons for a first-overall QB in recent NFL history?

Not every quarterback drafted at No. 1 overall enters the NFL with the same level of offensive support. Some rookie signal-callers are blessed with a wide selection of pass-catchers, while others have to make do with a limited RB/WR/TE palate.

Which quarterbacks drafted first overall have had the best weapons at their disposal? Where does new Chicago Bears QB Caleb Williams — who will work with WRs DJ Moore, Keenan Allen, and fellow rookie Rome Odunze — rank?

Ten quarterbacks have been selected at No. 1 since 2011, which provides a perfect cutoff for our rankings. The 2011 NFL Draft was the first to establish slotted rookie contract values, allowing clubs to build around an affordable rookie QB more easily.

Ranking Weapons for QBs Drafted First Overall Since 2011

10) Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars (2021)

Weapons: RB James Robinson, WR Marvin Jones Jr., WR Laviska Shenault Jr., WR DJ Chark, TE Dan Arnold

Unlucky enough to be paired with Urban Meyer in his pro debut, Lawrence’s supporting cast was nearly as poor as his head coaching situation. Jones, a free agent import in 2021, led the Jacksonville Jaguars with 832 receiving yards, while Shenault chipped in with 619. Arnold finished fourth among Jacksonville pass catchers in yards (324) despite being traded to the Carolina Panthers mid-season.

9) Bryce Young, Carolina Panthers (2023)

Weapons: RB Chuba Hubbard, WR Adam Thielen, WR DJ Chark, WR Jonathan Mingo, TE Hayden Hurst

We’re not including coaching in these rankings, but it’s not a coincidence that Lawrence and Young witnessed their Year 1 HCs fired during their respective rookie campaigns. Frank Reich was supposed to get the most out of Young after the Carolina Panthers made him the No. 1 pick in last year’s draft, but Reich was canned before December.

Thielen, Young’s 32-year-old WR1, got off to a hot start in 2023 but tailed off down the stretch, topping 80 receiving yards just once after Week 6. Chark and Hurst suffered significant injuries, while Hubbard only became Carolina’s starting RB because free agent addition Miles Sanders (four years, $25 million) faceplanted.

8) Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams (2016)

Weapons: RB Todd Gurley, WR Kenny Britt, WR Tavon Austin, WR Brian Quick, TE Lance Kendricks

Los Angeles Rams fans are probably happy this anemic 2016 version of the franchise existed — otherwise, Sean McVay might not be their current head coach.

McVay took over in Los Angeles after the 2016 Rams ranked dead last in the NFL in offensive EPA per play (-0.203). The gap between the last-place Rams and the 31st-ranked San Francisco 49ers was the same as the delta between the 49ers and the 14th-ranked Seattle Seahawks. Goff didn’t start until Week 10; he posted a 48.2 QBR in his debut but didn’t top 22.0 in any of his remaining six appearances.

7) Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns (2018)

Weapons: RB Nick Chubb, WR Jarvis Landry, WR Antonio Callaway, WR Rashard Higgins, TE David Njoku

Chubb was far more efficient in his rookie season than fellow Browns running back Carlos Hyde but still had to split carries with the veteran. While Chubb averaged 1.8 more yards per carry than Hyde and beat him in rushing success rate by 11 percentage points, Chubb only received 212 total touches to Hyde’s 120.

Landry made his fourth consecutive Pro Bowl in 2018 while making his Cleveland debut, but no other Browns wide receiver went over 700 yards in Mayfield’s rookie year. He still nearly beat New York Giants RB Saquon Barkley for Offensive Rookie of the Year honors.

6) Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals (2019)

Weapons: RB Kenyan Drake, RB David Johnson, WR Larry Fitzgerald, WR Christian Kirk, WR Damiere Byrd

KEEP READING: List of No. 1 Overall Picks in NFL Draft History

Murray worked with an odd mix of talent in his first NFL season. Johnson was on a downward trend in what became his final go-around as an Arizona Cardinal, forcing Arizona to acquire Drake at the 2019 trade deadline. The Cardinals transition-tagged him the following offseason.

Meanwhile, Fitzgerald was also in his career twilight. While he garnered 109 targets from Murray, Fitzgerald averaged just 10.7 yards per reception. The future Hall of Famer gradually ceded his WR1 role to Kirk as the season progressed.

5) Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2015)

Weapons: RB Doug Martin, RB Charles Sims, WR Mike Evans, WR Vincent Jackson, TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins

The 2015 Tampa Bay Buccaneers boasted one of the league’s best one-two RB punches. Martin was a first-team All-Pro after rebounding for a 1,400-yard rushing campaign, while Sims totaled 1,000+ total yards as a dynamic receiving back.

Evans was entering his second NFL season, having already posted 12 TDs in 2014. However, Jackson was on the decline and missed time with injuries, while no other Tampa Bay wide receiver managed even 300 yards.

4) Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers (2011)

Weapons: RB DeAngelo Williams, RB Jonathan Stewart, WR Steve Smith Sr., WR Brandon LaFell, TE Greg Olsen

Newton emerged as a force the NFL had rarely seen in 2011, winning Offensive Rookie of the Year after passing for 4,000+ yards and rushing for another 706. Newton helped elevate the talent around him. Six Panthers finished with at least 400 receiving yards in Newton’s rookie season, including Smith, who earned his final Pro Bowl nod after putting up 79 catches, 1,394 yards, and seven touchdowns.

3) Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals (2020)

Weapons: RB Joe Mixon, RB Giovani Bernard, WR Tee Higgins, WR Tyler Boyd, WR A.J. Green

While Burrow didn’t get to reunite with LSU teammate Ja’Marr Chase until 2021, the Cincinnati Bengals QB walked into a decent offensive environment in 2020. Cincinnati’s offensive line was a problem, but the club had solid weapons even before Chase arrived.

Higgins — like Burrow, a 2020 rookie — led the Bengals in receiving yards (908) and receiving TDs (six), while Boyd was No. 1 in receptions (79). Green was no longer in his prime but still managed a 47-523-2 line. Mixon suffered a season-ending foot injury in Week 6, and Burrow tore his ACL in Week 11.

2) Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts (2012)

Weapons: RB Vick Ballard, WR Reggie Wayne, WR T.Y. Hilton, WR Donnie Avery, TE Dwayne Allen

While the 2012 Indianapolis Colts didn’t have much of a rushing attack to speak of, they joined the 2020 Bengals as the only teams on our list with two receivers with 800+ yards. Indy almost had three, as Avery posted a career-high 781 yards in his only season as a Colt.

Wayne put up the last dominant campaign of his outstanding career, making his sixth Pro Bowl after hauling in 106 catches for 1,355 yards and five touchdowns. This was Hilton’s rookie year, too. The third-round pick averaged 17.2 yards per reception (fifth-best in the NFL) and led Indianapolis with seven TDs.

1) Caleb Williams, Chicago Bears (2024)

Weapons: RB D’Andre Swift, WR DJ Moore, WR Keenan Allen, WR Rome Odunze, TE Cole Kmet

Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Poles has created an incredibly welcoming environment for Williams as he begins his NFL career. Insisting on Moore as part of the Panthers’ package for the No. 1 pick in 2023 was a masterstroke, while acquiring Allen from the Los Angeles Chargers this offseason for a fourth-round pick represented a coup.

KEEP READING: NFL Post-Draft Power Rankings 

After grabbing Williams to kick off the 2024 draft, Chicago watched as Odunze serendipitously fell into their laps at No. 9. Add Swift, fellow RBs Khalil Herbert and Roshcon Johnson, Kmet, and TE Gerald Everett, and the Bears have given Williams the best set of weapons of any QB in recent NFL history.

Looking for everything you need surrounding the 2024 NFL Draft? Make sure to check out the latest draft results, overall team grades, and updated best remaining players available at every position!

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