Chicago Bears begin new era, select Caleb Williams No. 1 overall in 2024 NFL Draft

The first pick of the 2024 NFL Draft has been assumed for a month. The Chicago Bears made it official.

The Bears have selected Southern California quarterback Caleb Williams with the first overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.

A new era for the Bears has officially begun.

Back in January, the Bears needed to decide between drafting a quarterback at No. 1 overall or investing in Justin Fields.

In March, Fields was traded, paving the way for a rookie quarterback to take over in Chicago. The signs for months were that rookie would be Williams.

Williams took a top-30 visit to the Bears. No other quarterback prospect did. He met with the Bears at the NFL Combine, too. The Bears also passed on fellow consensus top QB prospect Drake May's pro day.

According to The Athletic NFL Draft analyst Dane Brugler, Williams is worthy of that comparison to Mahomes.

"Williams needs to be more consistent working on-schedule from the pocket, but you live with the hiccups because the positives are special with his dynamic passing skills and instinctive ability to create," Brugler wrote in his NFL Draft preview "The Beast." "Though stylistically he is like a really impressive karaoke-style version of Patrick Mahomes, he is truly unique as a playmaker."

Williams' college career spanned across two different schools, which isn't surprising in the era of the transfer portal.

He began at Oklahoma, playing for Lincoln Riley and eventually followed Riley to USC when Riley took the head coaching position there. In his three college football seasons, Williams threw 93 touchdown passes.

This last season, Williams passed for 3,633 yards, 30 touchdowns and five interceptions last season, completing 68.6 percent of his passes for the Trojans. 

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - APRIL 25: (L-R) Caleb Williams poses with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected first overall by the Chicago Bears during the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft at Campus Martius Park and Hart Plaza on April 25, 2024

In 2022, Williams' Heisman Trophy season, he completed 66.6 percent of his passes for 4,537 yards, 42 touchdowns and five interceptions. He also racked up 382 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground.

Williams brings massive potential to the Bears. More so than Justin Fields did, which is in no way looks down on Fields, who earned MVP votes after his second season in the NFL.

Williams has the tools, acumen and athleticism to be a difference maker at the highest level. He won't be Mahomes – who else in the world can be? – but he can certainly be the player who finally breaks the mold of subpar Bears quarterback futility that's spanned for over 100 years.

Think of the names of Bears quarterbacks who have started at least one game in Chicago since 2000:

Cade McNown, Shane Matthews, Jim Miller, Henry Burris, Chris Chandler, Kordell Stewart, Rex Grossman, Craig Krenzel, Jonathan Quinn, Kyle Orton, Brian Griese, Jay Cutler, Todd Collins, Caleb Hanie, Josh McCown, Jason Campbell, Jimmy Clausen, Brian Hoyer, Matt Barkley, Mike Glennon, Mitchell Trubisky, Chase Daniel, Nick Foles, Andy Dalton, Justin Fields, Nathan Peterman, Trevor Siemian and, finally, Tyson Bagent.

And that's just 20 year's worth of quarterback pains. The list grows exponentially when considering the 1990s, 80s, 70s and beyond.

FILE-Quarterback Caleb Williams #13 of the USC Trojans passes the ball during the against the Oregon Ducks at Autzen Stadium on November 11, 2023 in Eugene, Oregon. (Photo by Tom Hauck/Getty Images)

Williams has a chance to finally be the quarterback to make Bears fans forget that past. Chicago has never welcomed a prospect as talented or as highly rated as Williams.

In terms of draft prospects, Williams ranks among the best in the last two decades. He's up there with the likes of Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Joe Burrow, Trevor Lawrence and Kyler Murray, to name a few.

Those players were able to transform their franchises into playoff teams quickly. That's the value of having a prospect that talented.

That player is now a Chicago Bear. He's been showing off that talent for years, going back to his high school days when he was winning games with walk-off Hail Mary's bombs and to the college ranks when he was leading 20-point comebacks against Texas in the Red River Rivalry.

If he can replicate that success at the NFL level, the Bears will finally, exasperatingly, have solved their quarterback woes.

Don't just take the word of the NFL Draft analysts or experts.

Take the words of those who became believers years ago. 

"You'll always have a chance," Gonzaga High School head coach Randy Trivers, Williams' high school coach, told FOX 32 in February. "Always have faith and always believe when you got Caleb Williams on your side."


NFL Combine: How the narratives improperly capture Caleb Williams as a person

There’s a consensus among the football community that Williams is the top-rated prospect in this year's draft. Beyond that, plenty of others attested to Williams’ character as a teammate, but also as a person.