Caleb Williams Draft Profile | USC, QB Scouting Report

The 2023 college football season was filled with as many shocking moments as we’ve come to expect. Atop the list of premier 2024 NFL Draft prospects is USC quarterback Caleb Williams. We’re diving into Williams’ scouting report as the Heisman Trophy winner fights for the QB1 mantle and No. 1 overall pick distinction.

Caleb Williams Draft Profile and Measurements

  • Height: 6’1″
  • Weight: 218
  • School: USC
  • Age: 21

Starting his career in Oklahoma and replacing Spencer Rattler as the Sooners’ quarterback, Williams was a star from the moment he got on the field. He followed head coach Lincoln Riley to USC after 2021, where he won the Heisman Trophy. He totaled 4,357 passing yards, 42 touchdowns, and only five interceptions in 2022.

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Williams emerged as the latest elite NFL quarterback prospect with two straight seasons averaging 9.1 yards per attempt, a pass-efficiency rating over 168.5, and countless electrifying plays.

Although USC stumbled to a 7-5 record in his junior season, Williams shouldered his biggest weight yet. He responded by completing a career-best 68.6% of attempts for 9.4 yards per attempt. Three of his five interceptions came in one half, and he accounted for 41 touchdowns.

Over three years, Williams produced an incredible 93 passing touchdowns and 27 rushing scores while coughing up only 14 interceptions. Even without the context of how Williams created his output, his numbers were astounding.

Considering Williams’s tools, high IQ, and special play style, it’s easy to see why he’s a potential foundational piece in the NFL.

Caleb Williams Scouting Report

Strengths

  • 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 passer who protects the ball from defenders with high-level decision-making, field vision, and ball placement.
  • Routinely compensated for a mediocre offensive line and receiving corps by identifying incoming blitzes, hot reads, and extending plays when needed.
  • His anticipation while playing in structure was good in a limited sample size of play calls.
  • Was not carried by an innovative offensive scheme or elite NFL playmakers, so his adjustment to a bad NFL situation may not be as jarring as some top quarterbacks face.
  • Able to produce chunk plays to help overcome an offense that cannot sustain consistent drives.
  • Lightning quick reaction time when he sees a receiver coming open.
  • Able to manipulate defenders with his eyes, shoulders, and legs to open space for either himself or his receivers.
  • 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.
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Weaknesses

  • Is vulnerable to shouldering too much of the offense’s responsibilities, causing him to pass on quick throws in favor of extending plays downfield.
  • Can be too reliant on his elite arm talent to make throws, compromising his footwork and balance, leading to missed throws.
  • He was not exposed to a more sophisticated, timing-based offense, so adjusting to more advanced play calls, formations, and route combinations could include a learning curve.
  • Prone to getting happy feet and breaking out of the pocket before it’s necessary.
  • He 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. Although batted balls were not an issue in college, several shorter NFL QBs have struggled with middle-of-field throws due to their lack of height and/or length.

Current Draft Projection and Summary

Williams is an immensely gifted playmaker. He’ll enter the NFL as one of the premier arm talents and creators at quarterback on Day 1. His ability to devastate the will of defenses after evading pressure is reminiscent of peak Josh Allen, and his arm elasticity is in the same realm.

Unlike Allen, though, Williams consistently makes good decisions with the ball and avoids turnover-worthy plays. Williams lacks Allen’s immense size and ability to shed would-be tacklers similarly, but the two thrive in chaos in ways we’ve rarely seen.

Williams’ highlight reel is almost unbelievable due to the sheer volume of times he evaded defenders and ripped off a perfectly placed pass to a receiver. He didn’t play with All-American level receivers, and his offensive line often had a hand in Williams’ best and worst moments. A balance is needed at the next level for Williams not to be as hit-or-miss.

His skill set to be a great pocket passer is there, but Riley’s offense rarely catered to it. Instead of building a highly operational passing attack like the offenses that Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray rank under Riley, Williams had everything structured around his talent. The unit bogged down in key moments when USC went against similarly talented programs because there was no flow or identity beyond begging Williams to create.

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The biggest area Williams can prove himself is as an anticipatory passer on three- and five-step drops. Because the USC offense failed to incorporate favorable looks with pistol formations, play-action rollouts, and combination routes that could spur open looks, Williams’ processing might be more in question than they should be.

It’s hard to know how he’ll adjust because he wasn’t asked to do those things at USC.

On one hand, a more favorable offense will certainly open up easier completions and reduce Williams’ burden. Williams’ “generational prospect” tag will look justified if he can quickly acclimate as C.J. Stroud did. He plays with a very high football IQ and feels for the game, but we can’t account for how he’ll handle more diverse concepts without seeing them on the field.

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His natural physical talent is out of this world. Some evaluators will prefer Drake Maye’s size to Williams’ smaller build, but Williams is a master of his body. While in the pocket, his body control is excellent, using short chops to maneuver without overcommitting and exposing himself to being trapped by defenders. He’s more elusive than his solid athleticism suggests because of his presence.

Williams will transform the organization he lands with very early in his career. He’s a slam-dunk top-two quarterback in the 2024 class and has the tools and skill set to be an All-Pro in the NFL.

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