Former NFL GM says Caleb Williams has '95%' chance of having similar production to C.J. Stroud as a rookie


The Chicago Bears are expected to select former USC quarterback Caleb Williams with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, as he is the top quarterback prospect in this class. While the draft card hasn’t been handed in to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell yet, what are the expectations for Williams in Chicago Year 1?

Williams will surely be one of the favorites to win NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, but can he put together a campaign that resembles the historic first season C.J. Stroud of the Houston Texans had in 2023? During the most recent episode of the “With the First Pick” podcast, CBS Sports NFL Draft expert Ryan Wilson said he doesn’t think anyone in this class can match what Stroud did last year; however, former Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman does. 

In fact, he thinks there’s a 95% chance or higher Williams can do something similar to what Stroud did — if he indeed ends up in Chicago.

In 15 games played, Stroud completed 63.9% of his passes for 4,108 yards, 23 touchdowns and just five interceptions. His 273.9 passing yards per game led the league, as did his 1.0% interception percentage. Stroud had the highest TD-INT ratio vs. winning teams in NFL history including playoffs, and became the youngest quarterback to win a playoff game in NFL history. The Ohio State product was simply remarkable, and the main reason Houston went from worst to first in the AFC South. 

Williams is a better “prospect” than Stroud was entering the league, but that doesn’t guarantee anything. In fact, Spielman provided a very-necessary caveat to his claim, saying Williams will only find a high level of success in Year 1 if Chicago handles him the right way.

Stroud ended up having a very solid situation in Houston with first-year head coach DeMeco Ryans and offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik. The Bears have Matt Eberflus, who has been/is currently on the hot seat, and a new offensive coordinator in Shane Waldron, who comes over from the Seattle Seahawks. Coaching staffs and coaching in general when it comes to game-planning towards a quarterback’s strengths and making life easier for him are imperative. And that’s what will decide if Williams is as immediately successful as Stroud was.

The 2024 NFL Draft will take place from April 25-27 in Detroit. More draft coverage can be found at, including the weekly updated draft order, mock drafts and a regularly available look at the eligible prospects

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