USC Trojans quarterback Caleb Williams has provided more than enough film to warrant being selected with the No. 1 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. However, with Drake Maye viewed as a near-equal talent, the evaluation process will include how teams perceive both quarterbacks off the field.
Neither Williams nor Maye has had any legal trouble in the past and both players are expected to have positive recommendations from the coaching staffs at USC and North Carolina. However, the public perception of Williams and some things he’s done could come into play.
- Caleb Williams college stats (career): 10,082 passing yards, 93 passing touchdowns, 169.3 QB rating, 66.9 percent completion rate, 960 rushing yards, 27 rushing touchdowns
NFL insider Charles Robinson discussed some of the perceptions of Williams around the NFL on the Yahoo Sports’ Inside Coverage podcast.
“Curious how much of it comes out and curious how much it feels like it starts to cook up like a Magic Johnson, LA, flash, all of this stuff versus Larry Bird, gritty. That’s a lot of dogwhistle (expletive) that happens in these evals…I think there’s going to be questions about, like, all the NIL stuff, how has Caleb used it, where’s he living? Is he living in the Ritz Carlton? How many sports cars does he own at this point…I know it’s weird to say that, but I’m telling you it’s gonna get into this eval and they’re going to talk about painted nails,, crying with his mom, the “I just want to curl up with my dog.”Charles Robinson on the NFL evaluation process with Caleb Williams vs Drake Maye
Caleb Williams And The Brutality Of The NFL Draft Process
There are already plenty of examples of it. After Williams cried following the loss to Washington and was consoled by his mother, some former NFL players criticized Williams for that display of emotion on camera. When the Trojans’ quarterback didn’t speak to the media after the loss to UCLA, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network took a shot at Williams with language that indicated Williams doesn’t understand his responsibility nor what it means to be the face of a team.
Williams has also been mocked on social media and by some peers for painting his nails. While Williams has offered an explanation for why he does it, it still hasn’t prevented his own decision from being a source of mockery.
The NFL Draft process itself could also be unkind to Williams. Last year, C.J. Stroud was viewed as one of the best players in the 2023 NFL Draft class. Then, someone used anonymity to leak his S2 score and question his intelligence. It didn’t matter that there’s minimal correlation between S2 scores, anonymous NFL executives labeled Stroud a bust and said he shouldn’t be drafted.
Whether it’s the S2 score, answers to questions in private meetings with teams, painted nails or public displays of emotion, Williams will be criticized publicly by NFL executives and scouts using anonymity as protection. Fortunately, Stroud is the latest example that unwarranted personal criticisms don’t prevent a player from being immediately successful.