Caleb Williams took a while to make it official, but his historic college career is over.
Up next, the debate over whether he'll be the first overall pick of the draft.
Williams, the 2022 Heisman Trophy winner at USC, announced on Monday he has declared for the NFL draft. Monday was the last day underclassmen could declare for the draft.
Since I was 10, all I ever wanted to do was to play football. The journey would be empty without the people who have supported and loved me. I will Fight On forever and rep Hornsdown4Life. I’m ready to do whatever it takes. I am officially declaring for the NFL Draft.
— Caleb Williams (@CALEBcsw) January 15, 2024
— USC Football ✌️ (@uscfb) January 15, 2024
Williams started his career at Oklahoma, transferred to USC and had a brilliant 2022 season. He wasn't quite at that level in 2023 and USC struggled as a team, but his playmaking ability was evident.
The Chicago Bears have the first overall pick, due to a trade with the Carolina Panthers before last year's draft. There will be a debate over the next few months about Williams vs. North Carolina's Drake Maye as the top overall pick.
Williams' fantastic arm and unique playmaking ability led to some phenomenal highlights at USC. He was considered the clear No. 1 prospect for the 2024 draft since his Heisman season ended. But in 2023 he didn't have quite the same level of success, and NFL draft analysts wondered if he too often played outside of structure in the USC offense. Meanwhile, Maye had a great season and improved his draft stock. The Washington Commanders have the second overall pick and will be eagerly waiting to see what decision the Bears make, which could include keeping Justin Fields and trading the top overall pick.
As the clock ticked toward the deadline to declare for the draft, there was intrigue over whether Williams would stay in school. He'd make plenty of NIL money and his father said in September he could return to USC depending on who had the No. 1 pick.
But we know now, after some suspense before the deadline, that Williams will definitely be a part of that first pick conversation. The Bears have an interesting decision to make.