Ex-NFL QB highlights critical adaptation Caleb Williams must make for the NFL

Ex-NFL QB highlights critical adaptation Caleb Williams must make for the NFL originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Plenty of the pre-NFL draft conversation surrounding Caleb Williams as a “generational talent” could sway outsiders to believe he’s a quick fix for the Bears at the quarterback position.

Unfortunately, he’s not. He’s a human, and a rookie. Of course, rookie campaigns like those of C.J. Stroud‘s last season aren’t impossible. But they’re few and far between. And they require loads of work.

With that being said, Williams has plenty of room to grow. He knows that. The Bears know that. Ex-NFL quarterback Dan Orlovsky pointed out one area he’ll need to adjust in the NFL, as opposed to college football.

On film, Orlovsky examines one play from Williams’ tape at USC as an unparallel to the NFL. Highly recommend the watch.

“You’re gonna see what we call a 3-man rush. For context at home, USC saw a 3-man rush, eight guys dropping, 20 percent of the time, second most in the conference. In the NFL, defenses only run it about four percent of the time,” Orlovsky started.

The tape Orlovsky shows is an incredible juxtaposition between the college and NFL games. In college, Williams made his money stretching plays longer, using his legs and uncanny arm angles to create plays from scratch and gain yardage downfield.

Orlovsky’s point is this — that won’t be so easy in the NFL.

From the tape, Williams is granted superfluous time. His pocket is incredibly clean, in part because the opposing defense is sending a 3-man rush. Williams takes his time, shifting around the pocket, until he finally breaks out and makes a downfield throw across his body for a huge gain.

“If I’m the Bears, I’m sitting there saying ‘Caleb, I love this stuff,'” Orlovsky said. “And you gotta get a feel for when you can, and cannot, in this league. But we’re not gonna get a lot of examples of you being the most athletic guy on the field and be able to make those (passes) consistently.'”

It’s part of the reason the Bears were eager to draft him. Williams’ Mahomes-like ability to create special plays outside the pocket from off-platform throws is uncanny. It’s undeniably one of his greatest strengths.

But it could quickly become a weakness if he doesn’t adapt to the intense, up-front pressure in the NFL. Remember how widely criticized Justin Fields was for holding the ball for too long? That could easily happen to Williams if the Bears can’t contain Williams’ instinct to flip the switch to his off-script abilities.

For that, it poses questions that will soon see answers on the field

“I think Caleb Williams many times said, almost Aaron Rodgers-like, ‘I’m gonna catch this ball. I’m gonna make sure it’s a 3-man rush. I’m gonna hang, and then I’m gonna go create something down the field.’

“How many times can he do that in the NFL without getting himself hit a ton or give up the ball?”

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