How good is Caleb Williams? Why USC QB is drawing Patrick Mahomes comparisons in 2024 NFL Draft

The Bears should be excited that their No. 1 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, Caleb Williams, is drawing comparisons to the best quarterback in the league, Patrick Mahomes.

Why does Williams have such lofty expectations even before his NFL career begins?

It’s difficult to believe Williams or any young franchise QB can deliver what Mahomes has in only six seasons as a starter for the Chiefs — two MVPs and three Super Bowl rings — but the comparisons are less about what Williams will do in the future vs. much more about how he profiles in the present.

From their size and stature to a pair of intangibles, here’s explaining why there are a lot of Mahomes’ prospect traits in Williams.

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How good is Caleb Williams? How USC QB compares to Patrick Mahomes


Williams stands a 6-1, 214 pounds, based on his measurements at the NFL Combine. Mahomes is a little taller and a bit beefier at 6-2, 225 pounds. They have some heft and toughness to their game despite being shorter than the classic 6-4 ideal for starting QBs. They also have similar upper-body types to help them produce pop in their throws.

Offensive background

Mahomes is the best product of Kliff Kingsbury’s wide-open college passing game in the NFL. Williams played for Lincoln Riley, who coached No. 1 picks Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray at Oklahoma (along with Jalen Hurts) before moving to USC and taking Williams with him.

Kingsbury, after being attached to Murray and the Cardinals before being fired last offseason, meshed some of his concepts with Riley’s as a senior offensive analyst at USC in 2023. Although Kingsbury, now back as an NFL offensive play-caller with the Commanders, won’t get to coach the D.C.-native Williams again, some of his influence will carry with the QB to the Bears.

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Given the overall success of those Riley QBs and Mahomes, Williams has been groomed well for thriving in the current passing state of the NFL.

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Arm strength

Mahomes is known for being able to zip the ball downfield, all over the field. There’s no question he has an elite capacity to make all the throws. Williams has an off-the-charts cannon, too, something he reminded every team that saw him throw again during his pro day.

Williams, like Mahomes, also matches that with accuracy and good ball placement to hit streaking receivers downfield.


Mahomes on the move has proved to be dangerous for opponents. Extending pass plays looking for deep shots has been a given, but he has also used his feet to take off and run in clutch red-zone and third-down situations in recent years. He might not be the most dynamic runner, but he’s decisive and determined when he takes off.

Williams has great mobility and purpose to that aspect of his game. He’s not running around because he’s bailing early on pressure, but like Mahomes, he knows it’s the best play in his arsenal at a given time.

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Off-script playmaking

Mahomes is known for his uncanny sensing of pressure with the instincts to move into the right position to throw the ball. Williams is the same kind of escape artist, changing a would-be sack or other potential disasters into a backbreaking play. 

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Williams can keep looking for the home run at times, which can get him in trouble, but he is extremely efficient and quick with his decision-making on the fly. His transition from apparent pocket passing to creative improv is smooth.

Mahomes has made lengthy highlight reels of “no-look” and off-balance passes that turn nothing into a big something. Williams has that innate sense that can’t be taught.


Mahomes will do whatever it takes to get the Chiefs a win. He’ll lay it all out with his arm and body when his team needs it most. He balances that out by not forcing that style of play in all situations. Williams is an elite talent, too, but he comes with a grinding mentality, staying just as dangerous as a dual threat when facing adversity.

Williams’ complete package gives him a high floor as the Bears’ next starting quarterback and will be in the NFL for a long time. The fact he has a ceiling to match Mahomes should make Chicago’s fans think they might also have landed a future Super Bowl-bound superstar.


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