Caleb Williams supported his USC Trojans teammates and coaches even after opting out of the Holiday Bowl to prepare for the 2024 NFL Draft. Now, one of Williams’ teammates is showing even stronger support and issuing a warning to NFL general managers.
While Williams is generally viewed as the best player in the 2024 class, there is ongoing debate over what the Chicago Bears should do with the first overall pick. Some have suggested trading it and building around Justin Fields, while others believe Drake Maye is the best fit for the Bears offense.
- 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
Related: 2024 NFL Draft rumors
The Heisman Trophy winner isn’t without his critics. Some in the NFL have off-field questions about Williams, while other scouts have identified one of their biggest on-field concerns. While the former USC star will have a chance to prove himself at the NFL Combine, one of his former teammates is already going to bat for his quarterback.
Speaking to Jason Lieser of the Chicago Sun-Times, wide receiver Brenden Rice warned Bears’ general manager Ryan Pace that passing on Williams with the first pick would be a career-altering mistake.
“You can’t risk [not picking him] and letting him fall, have fun losing your job man.”Former USC Trojans wide receiver Brenden Rice on the Chicago Bears GM Ryan Pace potentially passing on quarterback Caleb Williams
Rice, the son of Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice, certainly knows more than most about what Williams can bring to an NFL team. The 21-year-old has also spent a lot of time around successful NFL franchises, having seen first-hand what made the San Francisco 49ers successful.
While Pace is keeping his options open, it would be a surprise if the Bears trade the No. 1 overall pick. However, there is still plenty of debate around the NFL over whether Williams or Maye is the best quarterback prospect.
It will take several years for a definitive ruling can be made on who will have been the better pick and a variety of circumstances will ultimately determine how successful Williams and Maye are. Given Williams’ pure talent and marketability, however, Rice might ultimately be proven right that the general manager who passes on Williams will ultimately be fired a few years later.