No Bears player has more to prove in 2024 than rookie quarterback Caleb Williams

This week we’re counting down the top five Bears players with something to prove in 2024. These could be rookies who have yet to play an NFL snap, or they could be veterans who wants to show more.

As NFL players like to say, they’re going out to prove themselves every single season. NFL contracts are not always guaranteed. The star quarterbacks might have long-term security, but not every player on the roster is so fortunate.

Here’s a look at No. 1 on the list of top Bears players with something to prove. The selection is probably not much of a surprise.

No. 1 Caleb Williams

Position: Quarterback

Experience: First season

Looking back: This will go down as a momentous off-season in Chicago. No decision was more franchise-altering than the decision to select Caleb Williams with the No. 1 overall draft pick on April 25. In a corresponding move, the Bears shipped incumbent starter Justin Fields off to Pittsburgh in exchange for a future draft pick.

Williams comes to Chicago after two seasons at USC, including a Heisman Trophy campaign in 2022. He threw for more than 10,000 passing yards over three college seasons (including his freshman year at Oklahoma), along with 93 touchdowns and 14 interceptions (in 37 college games).

Williams was widely considered the favorite to go No. 1 overall, and Bears general manager Ryan Poles surprised nobody with his selection.

This spring Williams appeared to be hitting all the milestones that coach Matt Eberflus and offensive coordinator Shane Waldron laid out for him. Williams had the chance to work with his new Bears teammates for the first time, and everybody raved about his work ethic and his ability to connect with his teammates.

Looking forward:

Being the No. 1 overall pick guarantees nothing. For Poles and Eberflus, drafting Williams might be the defining moment of their careers. For better or worse, general managers and head coaches are judged on how well they draft and develop quarterbacks. If this goes wrong, it will likely mean their jobs.

But that’s not really what Williams needs to worry about. His focus in 2024 should be to prove that he can play in the NFL. By all accounts, Williams is incredibly self-motivated. He once told GQ magazine that his goal is to win eight Super Bowls, one more than Tom Brady. The quest for eight, of course, has to start with one — and he hasn’t won anything yet.

Though fans might not have much patience, Williams doesn’t necessarily have to have a stellar rookie season in order to have a good NFL career. A guy named Peyton Manning threw 28 interceptions during his rookie season and things turned out just fine for him. Williams may one day become the first Bears quarterback to throw for 4,000 passing yards, but if he doesn’t do it as a rookie that’s just fine.

Even so, the expectations are sky-high.

Poles has positioned this offense well to support the rookie. He added talented skill position players like Keenan Allen, D’Andre Swift and Rome Odunze. On paper, Allen, Odunze and DJ Moore might be the organization’s best receiving trio in at least a decade. Williams and that group are expecting to produce results.

The future of the Bears organization, and the city of Chicago, is on Williams’ shoulders. As Bears fans saw throughout the spring, there are plenty of Caleb Williams haters out there. That faction will become awfully loud if he has a lousy rookie season. A successful rookie season, on the other hand, could skyrocket the Bears into true contention in the NFC over the years to come.

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