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USATSI

Caleb Sequan Williams was born on Nov. 18, 2001, in the Washington D.C. area to Carl Williams and Dayna Price. Both parents were athletically inclined (the father owns a performance center in the D.C. area that trained Williams), so it wasn't too long before Williams was playing sports. Three years before he played any high school football, Williams was a running back in youth leagues who convinced himself -- and his parents -- that he had the arm strength to play quarterback. With the help of trainers at his father's facility along with quarterback coaches and a dietician, Williams laid the foundation to become an NFL prospect as a quarterback.

With it came the decision to enroll at Gonzaga College High School, a private institution that's about a 30-minute walk from The White House. It proved to be a good call: Williams led the Eagles to the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championship games in back-to-back seasons, losing as a freshman but winning as a sophomore thanks to a well-documented Hail Mary completion Williams threw from 53 yards out. That helped him earn the nickname "Superman". It was around this time he started attending the QB Collective training camps held by NFL coaches such as Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay. After another strong junior year was capped off by being named the Elite 11 finals MVP, Williams' senior season was scuttled because of Covid-19 restrictions. The 247Sports five-star recruit got offers from pretty much every major program but committed to play college football at the University of Oklahoma with Lincoln Riley as his head coach, making the decision live on CBS Sports HQ

Williams backed up fellow draft prospect Spencer Rattler in 2021 but replaced him in the Sooners' matchup against Texas and led them from an 18-point deficit to a seven-point victory. He finished the season 5-2 as a starter. But that was his only season in Norman as Williams followed Riley to The University of Southern California where he started there for two years (18-8). While there, the communications major created the Caleb Cares Foundation to help stop bullying, empower youth and bring awareness to mental health. He's teamed with The Boys and Girls Club of Los Angeles and the National Ad Council to help spread his message. Despite his father suggesting that Williams would stay in school if he didn't like his potential NFL suitors, Williams declared for the NFL Draft in mid-January. 

Age as of Week 1: 22 | Height: 6-foot-1 | Weight: 215 | 40-time: n/a

Comparable body-type to: Jalen Hurts

We're breaking down everything you need to know about Williams from a Fantasy manager perspective, including best fits, Dynasty outlook, measurables, scouting report, key stats, and an NFL comparison.

Dynasty outlook

The only way Williams won't have a shot to be a stellar Fantasy option is if he gets pigeon-holed into a new offense that doesn't feature his best traits and condemns him from running the ball much. Any coaching staff that would do such a thing would ultimately get fired and replaced with one that would handle Williams properly. He should be very good for Fantasy managers, but it'll help if his new team has an offense he's familiar with, an offensive line that can protect him a decent amount of the time, and a group of nuanced receivers who can adjust to Williams' style of play. You're looking at an easy top-10 pick in one-QB and the likely 1.01 in Superflex/two-QB rookie-only drafts. And, expect Williams to be a late-round pick in one-QB redraft leagues and a top-60 pick in Superflex/two-QB versions.

Best realistic Fantasy fits

Chicago Bears

Chicago's new playcaller is Shane Waldron, a disciple off the Kyle Shanahan/Sean McVay coaching tree but also someone who was a small part of Bill Belichick and Charlie Weis' staffs in New England and then Notre Dame. That suggests Waldron has had exposure to multiple types of offenses and should be able to glue elements of what he likes into the Air Raid-style system Williams has been running his whole life. I'd imagine Waldron would add plenty of RPOs, work up more formations and motion to keep pro defenses from keying in on anything Williams would do, something Lincoln Riley did a little bit of at USC. Additionally, there's a good chance Waldron and Williams' paths crossed during Williams' time at the QB Collective training camps held every summer. The bottom line is that Waldron is a capable playcaller who would get plenty out of Williams with priority targets to D.J. Moore and Keenan Allen. The biggest issue: How long will Waldron stay with the Bears? If they stink in 2024 he could get fired, if they do great in 2024 he could move on to being a head coach by 2025 or 2026. Candidly, if that's the biggest issue then Williams should be good to go here. 

Washington Commanders

Kliff Kingsbury was USC's senior offensive assistant in 2023, charged with working closely with Williams every week. He is now the playcaller for the Commanders, and he's been running a version of the Air Raid offense as far back as 2000 when he played for Mike Leach at Texas Tech. That sounds great for Williams, and it helps that Washington has a capable group of receivers led by Terry McLaurin, but Kingsbury's offenses in Arizona were never top 10 in points per game and were top 10 in total yards per game in two seasons because of their rushing efficiency. They were most certainly pass-friendly (39.1 pass attempts per game in 2022!), which would help Williams have plenty of opportunities to throw up some big numbers. I'd also expect Kingsbury to call Williams' number frequently in short-yardage situations.

Next-best Fantasy fits: Minnesota, Denver, New England

Scouting report

Strengths

  • Strong legs and thick lower body provide a terrific base for him to throw from every time. Solidly built upper body with long arms generates his arm strength and quick release.
  • Polished, well-trained footwork that usually was in sync with his hips and eyes as he went through his progressions.
  • Mahomes-esque with varying arm angles and usually quick releases when he threw. Frequently had a typical arm slot and release point but would use a sidearm a few times each game along with a rare Kent Tekulve-style submariner release, especially when throwing a screen.
  • Able to make full-field reads, frequently going through his progressions until he picked a target. Not only was superior at this when pass rush pressure wasn't on him but frequently kept his eyes downfield regardless of the play situation.
  • Had savvy eye discipline that helped him freeze safeties enough to keep his intended target open and available.
  • Live, talented arm that NFL coaches crave. No questions whatsoever about Williams' cannonesque arm strength. 
  • Overall accuracy was good but he was especially consistent on the short-area throws you'd expect him to connect. Would sometimes have outstanding ball placement even when he was throwing off-platform (backfoot throws, throwing while running, etc.). Knew when to throw with lightning-bolt velocity or with the touch of an angel to layer in passes over defenders' heads.
  • Made some anticipatory throws but is more of a see-it-first passer. Coaching could absolutely help him master throwing with anticipation.
  • Was able to get the ball to his intended target frequently whether he was pressured or not. This included when he's throwing without proper functional quarterback mechanics -- off his back foot, while running, falling away from the target with a defender in his face, etc.
  • Ridiculous playmaker when things broke down. Default when pressured was to clown pass rushers by avoiding them (excellent mobility!) or even escaping their grip while keeping his eyes way downfield to give himself a shot to make a play. Sometimes it worked out to jaw-dropping perfection, most of the time it became an incompletion, rarely was he sacked or intercepted. Coaches will swoon over this.
  • Legit gamer who constantly tried to make good things happen. Combined a fearless, panic-free nature with the savvy of knowing to never put the ball in harm's way, sometimes leading to throwaways instead of being sacked, or sacks when he could have put the ball in danger.
  • Incredible in the red zone when it mattered most. More on that in the advanced stats below.
  • Dynamite weapon in the RPO game with clear understanding of when to hand off, when to throw and when to run. Good technique when he handed off or faked the handoff was icing on the cake. 
  • Had the added dimension of being an effective rusher, mostly off of RPOs. Good straight-line speed when he ran to help him scoot past defenders. Excellent balance when he runs to juke defenders or stop on a dime before picking up space. And Cam Newton-like as far as goal-to-go rushing chances went -- had 13 touchdowns on 17 career rushes from 3 yards or closer including 9 of 11 from the goal line.
  • Did not miss a game because of injury throughout his college career (pinky finger injury on his right hand in Oct. 2023, hamstring strain on a 59-yard run vs. Utah in 2022). 

Concerns

  • Doesn't have desired height for a typical NFL quarterback. There were occasions it felt like Williams couldn't see downfield because he was too short. Williams had very few passes batted down due to the combination of his height and occasional sidearm pass attempts, but a few in college could become more in the pros. NFL teams have to be comfortable with his height. Not a big deal.
  • Had 48 snaps from under center in three years of college play -- six were at the 1-yard line (five touchdown runs), four were spikes to stop the clock and 16 were kneel-downs. Williams can probably handle the snap from center but playing quarterback from there requires some coaching. Not a big deal.
  • There was an absence of tight-window throws and completions where he "threw his receiver open." Not saying he can't do it -- there's some evidence that he can -- but the combination of the Air Raid offense and Williams' own decision-making created a lot of passes that were either meant to be easy or thrown deep. It did feel like Williams had a few more of those kinds of throws in his one year at Oklahoma. 
  • Quite simply, Williams created his own chaos. He was often too greedy for the highlight play, passing up easier, high-probability completions in favor of lower-probability targets that were further downfield. This contributed to him holding the ball longer than he probably should have on many dropbacks and inviting pass rush pressure and resulting in him avoiding a sack and being forced to make an improvisational play. There's no question his next team must reinforce the concept of taking easy throws, but not to the point where they stunt his off-schedule playmaking traits.
  • Was sometimes jittery behind a below-average offensive line in 2023 and wouldn't consistently set his feet to throw because he knew he might have to run to avoid the pass rush. By comparison, there were games in 2021 with Oklahoma where Williams wasn't under constant harassment and played exceptionally. Better protection up front should keep Williams' feet from getting happy, but it's something that coaches may have to accept if their O-line isn't great.
  • Effective runner but must learn to tuck the ball high and tight into his arm, not outstretched from his body like he's holding the proverbial loaf of bread. He lost six fumbles in 2023 (tied for fifth-most among QBs). Also has to master sliding to end a play. Hopefully both of these issues can be fixed without much issue.
  • Has essentially been in the same offense since high school -- predominantly Air Raid with shotgun with RPOs and spread-formation concepts. It would be wise for an NFL team to structure its offense around that system rather than ask Williams to learn something completely foreign to him.
  • Much has been made about his emotions, his outbursts, his style and his fingernails. Some refer to him as a diva. Williams definitely showed emotion on the field, both positively and negatively, while with USC. He calls himself extremely competitive and has a strong bond with his mother, both of which explained why he cried in her arms in the stands following a tough loss at Washington in 2023, likely costing him his goals of a second Heisman Trophy and a conference championship. He also refused to shake hands with players from Utah after losing to them for the second straight year, and he snubbed the media after his last game with Southern Cal. Like Cam Newton, Williams definitely has his own sense of style (he was photographed in many outfits for a profile in GQ Magazine including wearing a designer men's skirt) and has painted his nails since he was in high school as a form of self-expression (his mother is a nail technician). Some coaches might see him as "odd" or "high-maintenance" because of these things, and some others might not deem him a leader like other quarterbacks are. But there will be coaches who don't care about these things and maybe even like that Williams gets fired up on the field. It's understood that he's simply not like your typical even-keeled quarterback.

Stats breakdown


GCmp%PaYdsYds/AttPaTDPaINTRuAttRuYdsRuAvgRuTD
20231268.6%36339.4305971421.511
2023 v Top-25466.4%10587.65341300.73
Career3766.9%100829.293142899663.327

Advanced stats to know

  • Over three seasons Williams threw 12.1% of his targets to running backs, 72.5% to wide receivers and 9.7% to tight ends. That's by design in the Air Raid offense. 
  • Had just three successful final-drive comebacks in college (one in each season). Of his 24 wins as the team's primary QB, 15 were by more than one score. Of his 10 losses as a starter, four were by one-score with two failed final-drive comeback attempts.
  • Among the "big five" prospects in this year's draft (Williams, Drake Maye, Jayden Daniels, J.J. McCarthy and Michael Penix), Williams was tied for second-best in off-target rate (10.1%), second in yards per attempt (9.4) and TD rate (7.7%), third in completion rate (68.6%) and rate of passes with 20-plus Air Yards (16.9%), and third in interception rate (1.29%). He also had the lowest Average Depth of Target (8.5 yards).
  • The two metrics Williams led the "big five" in involved pass rush pressure -- he felt it the most (33.6%) and had the highest sack rate (8.3%). He was not blitzed the most -- in fact he was blitzed at the second-lowest rate (27.4%).
  • Williams was credited with getting pressured on 102 pass attempts in 2023 (33.6% of his dropbacks). He completed 47.1% of those attempts with a 15.7% off-target rate (both third among the "big five") for 7.2 yards per attempt (second-lowest among the "big five") on an 8.6 ADOT (lowest among the "big five") with a 7.84% TD rate (third among the "big five").
  • When pressured and throwing short (under 4 Air Yards), Williams had a 39.1% completion rate, a mystifying number but somehow better than Penix (35.4%) and Maye (31.8%).
  • When Williams wasn't pressured and tried passes of 15-plus Air Yards, he was top 12 in the nation in completion rate (53.2%), but still no better than third among the "big five."
  • Overall, Williams was seventh-best in the nation in completion rate on throws of 15-plus Air Yards (52.9%) with a 17.2% TD rate (top 10) with decent results in INT rate (3.45%) and off-target throws (29.9%).
  • Had four throws of over 50 Air Yards over the past two seasons including one of 59 Air Yards to Jordan Addison in 2022 that was overthrown. Had another 24 pass attempts over the last two seasons between 40 and 49 Air Yards.
  • On quick throws (2.5 seconds or less), Williams completed 81.2% of his throws for 8.2 yards per attempt, a 4.5 ADOT, a 6.4% TD rate, and a 0.5% INT rate. On throws that weren't out quick (2.51 seconds or more), Williams completed 55.3% of his throws for 10.6 yards per attempt, a 12.7 ADOT, a 9.04% TD rate, and a 2.1% INT rate. He was pressured on a jaw-dropping 52.7% of those long-timed throws.
  • In the red zone, Williams completed 67.3% of his throws with a 25.45% TD rate; 7.3% of his throws were deemed off-target. Only the TD rate was not best among the "big five." Williams was not intercepted one time in the red zone in 2023 and only once in three seasons and 178 pass attempts. This is excellent.
  • While his accuracy and ball placement were generally good, Williams was understandably more off-target when throwing deep passes. On throws of 15-plus Air Yards Williams had an off-target rate of 29.9% in 2023 (and 37.4% in 2022). To quantify that, he was a little more off-target on those throws last season than the FBS average of quarterbacks with at least 200 pass attempts. Of note, Jayden Daniels (13.3%!), Bo Nix, J.J McCarthy, Spencer Rattler and Drake Maye all had lower off-target rates. Daniels, Nix and McCarthy all had higher completion rates on those throws. 
  • Had 375 yards on 64 attempts on easy throws -- quick outs, WR screens, backfield outs and shovel passes (both were second-most among the "big five").
  • 21 snaps from under center in 2023 (45th most in the nation; second-fewest among the "big five").
  • Excluding sacks, Williams had 85 carries for 266 yards (3.1 yards per carry) and 11 touchdowns on the ground (one more than Jayden Daniels).
  • Had an avoided tackle rate of 16% in 2023 and an explosive rush rate of 9.3%, both second-lowest among the "big five."
  • Scored on 19 of 33 rush attempts inside the 10, 16 of 22 rush attempts inside the 5, and 9 of 11 rush attempts at the one-yard line. 

NFL Comparison

When it comes to Williams' arm strength, accuracy, mobility, coolness in the heat of battle and even escaping pass rush pressure, I think back to legendary quarterback Steve McNair. You could give the edge in size and strength to McNair, and while Williams was built in a sports training center, McNair was basically the byproduct of living in the South and getting discovered at Alcorn State. Otherwise, these two are very similar -- both had strong arms, both were accurate, both had an eye for making big plays via the deep ball or via their legs, and most importantly, both were gamers with strong determination to find ways to score and win.