USC quarterback Caleb Williams, the presumptive No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, may not even make himself eligible for spring’s seven-round frenzy. Despite projecting to be an elite prospect who has been compared to Patrick Mahomes, Williams isn’t sold that his time to enter the NFL is now.
Could Williams possibly return to USC in 2024?
Will Caleb Williams Enter the 2024 NFL Draft?
Williams told Ryan Kartje of the Los Angeles Times it’s still a “game-time decision” as to whether he’ll enter the draft. The deadline to enter the draft isn’t until Jan. 15, so Williams has over one month to decide.
It’s hard to imagine Williams would choose to go back to the Trojans, who stumbled to a 7-5 finish after a 6-1 start. The best way to describe Williams’ experience at USC in 2023 is exhausting.
He was brilliant for most of the season, averaging 303 passing yards and 3.4 touchdowns per game. However, his team continually let him down as the competition ramped up, forcing Williams to take on the entire weight of an offense already relying too much on his talent.
The 2022 Heisman Trophy winner had several emotional moments as the season ended. He cried in his mother’s arms after USC lost to Washington. While he’s “far from ashamed” of showing his emotion, Williams described this season as a learning experience that has changed him:
“I’ve never been in this situation, where I’m 7-5, and there are no playoff hopes at the end of the season. I’m dealing with it emotionally, dealing with it spiritually and physically. It’s been one of the most important years I think I’ve had. It’s tricky.
“I’ve had to have talks with Lincoln [Riley, USC’s coach] — because obviously, I haven’t been through it — or with my family members or people like that, just how to deal with this and lead, how to stay the same person I was before the season or after our first loss or second loss. So it was different. It was a learning process.”
We also saw ridiculous rumors about Williams emerge, including that he wanted an ownership stake from the team that drafts him, even though that’s impossible. His father suggested that Williams could return to school if the team that lands the No. 1 pick is a bad situation for his son.
By the final whistle of the regular season, Williams had endured one of the toughest seasons possible for someone considered a rare talent. Even if USC improves its woeful defense with a new coordinator and batch of transfers over the offseason, Williams’ pathway to winning with the program appears limited.
The Trojans lacked talent in both the offense and defense, which is why they finished so poorly. Joining the Big Ten will only further expose those limitations, and Williams can’t carry the entire team on his back.
Caleb Williams Scouting Report
- Excellent arm talent that is capable of delivering an accurate pass to all levels of the field.
- Effortlessly generates velocity on short and intermediate throws, even if he’s unable to align his body and plant his feet.
- Accuracy and ball placement consistently allow his playmakers to maximize opportunities after the catch. Williams leads receivers upfield and often hits the correct shoulder for them to continue their momentum.
- A fantastic player outside of structure as he correctly reads defenders’ leverage and angles, then capitalizes on opportunities with accurate throws.
- Extremely efficient with completion rate while protecting the ball from defenders.
- Often overcame mediocre blocking while outproducing his peers.
- His anticipation while playing in structure was good when he had the time to throw in the pocket.
- Able to produce chunk plays to help overcome an offense that cannot sustain consistent drives.
- Williams shows very good pocket mobility and is willing to keep his eyes downfield as he buys time for his receivers.
- Able scrambler thanks to his quickness but is not reliant on his legs to move the chains.
- Struggled to play within the offense’s timing, sometimes due to poor blocking and other times because he wanted to extend the play for bigger opportunities. Williams must find a better balance when the game flow calls for it.
- Prone to getting happy feet and breaking out of the pocket before it’s necessary.
- Can find a better balance between being a playmaker and taking the easier throw to extend drives. This can become a bigger weakness due to a lack of anticipation or pre-snap understanding of coverages.
- His size is not ideal, lacking height and a fuller frame than his peers.
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