What to Expect from Bears QB Caleb Williams in Year 1

Chicago has never had a 4,000-yard passer. Plus, more on the Bills, Chiefs, Saints, Giants, 49ers, Dolphins and 2025 NFL draft prospects in Albert’s Breer’s mailbag.
Williams could become the first 4,000-yard passer for the Chicago Bears.
Williams could become the first 4,000-yard passer for the Chicago Bears. / Jason Parkhurst-USA TODAY Sports

The 2024 NFL draft is done, and it’s time to dive in and answer a few questions about it …


From David Kromelow (@dkrom59): What are realistic expectations for Caleb Williams (individually speaking) and the Bears in general this season? And do you anticipate Bo Nix starting over or under 10 games for the Broncos this year?


Alright, Davis, so on the first question, I’d say 3,700 yards, 20 touchdowns and 10 interceptions would be a reasonable stat line for Williams in Year 1. I do think the team has a chance to be good and, just as important, positioned to help fuel the quarterback’s development.


With a deep crew of backs (D’Andre Swift, Roschon Johnson, Khalil Herbert) and a rugged offensive line, the Chicago Bears should have the ability to keep Williams out of the long-yardage situations that kill young quarterbacks. And with a fast-improving team, and a defense coming around at the end of last year, he shouldn’t be playing from behind quite as much as quarterbacks drafted that high usually do. Having Keenan Allen, DJ Moore and Rome Odunze won’t hurt, either.


So, yeah, I think that team can win nine or 10 games just with solid play from Williams.


As for Nix, I do think Sean Payton’s going to get him out there. One thing I know Payton loved about Nix was his experience. Between Auburn and Oregon, Nix started an NCAA record 61 games. Generally, quarterbacks who played a lot in college (see: Purdy, Brock) translate faster to the NFL. Which should make it a little easier on Payton to play Nix, and get him NFL game reps now rather than later.


Buffalo Bill receiver Keon Coleman
The Bills drafted Coleman in the second round after trading back with the Chiefs. / Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

From d_iggs17 (@d_iggs17): Was Keon Coleman the Bills’ guy all along or did they have another receiver in mind?

Diggs, let’s look at this logically. The Buffalo Bills did the trade with the rival Kansas City Chiefs, moving down from 28 to 32, knowing what the rest of the NFL did last week—that Texas burner Xavier Worthy was a great fit for Kansas City. So if the Bills loved Worthy, they wouldn't have done that. With full acknowledgement that the San Francisco 49ers are really good, and often outside the box on receiver assessments, it’s fair to say few teams had Florida’s Ricky Pearsall going 31st. And they dealt with ex-Bills exec Dan Morgan in trading down from 32 to 33.


Put the pieces together, and it’s easy to think that the Bills had an inkling that Worthy and South Carolina’s Xavier Legette were going in the spots they traded out of, and were surprised to see Pearsall go where he did. And maybe they moved out of 28 when the hope that LSU’s Brian Thomas Jr. would slip to them died.


So let’s say, in a great receiver year, they had Coleman as their fifth guy, behind Thomas, his LSU teammate Malik Nabers, Ohio State’s Marvin Harrison Jr. and Washington’s Rome Odunze. I’d say to get that guy—some scouts assessed him as a prospect in the Harrison–Nabers–Odunze class in the fall—in the second round is pretty good value, especially when it resulted in improving three later picks in pick swaps as part of trades.


From Chandler (@_chandler_____): What do the Chiefs do with their excess cap space?


Chandler, their cap space is a moving target because of the restructures of Patrick Mahomes’s contract. They pushed more than $21 million into the future, and that eventually has to be accounted for.


To simplify it, let’s say you have $200 to spend on your team today, and $220 to spend on it tomorrow. So on one player, you push $20 off to tomorrow. Now, on paper, it may look great that you have that extra $20 today. But you’ll still have to account for it tomorrow. So if you have the choice, with your team built, to take $20 off the top today to add to what you can spend tomorrow, would you do it? You probably would.


So that’s my convoluted way of saying the Chiefs probably take the money and roll it over. One thing that’s interesting, too, is that with Travis Kelce’s new deal—which essentially added $4 million this year, guaranteed his money, and added an early vesting date for next year’s guarantees—there are no void years. I’d look for the Chiefs to do more deals that way, to make it so Mahomes’s deal is the only one pushing money forward, which will allow them to build in a more sustainable way.


New Orleans Saints quarterback Spencer Rattler
Most NFL scouts had Rattler projected as a fourth-round pick. / Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports

From Tyler (@BigTyTheMemeGuy): How big of a shot does Spencer Rattler have at becoming the Saints’ starting QB after Derek Carr?


Tyler, I’m just going to use the space you gave me to say something else on Rattler here: The only reason anything involving Rattler (like my buddy Ian Rapoport’s Netflix note during the final day of the draft) is a big deal is because three springs ago people were projecting him to be something he wasn’t.

In the Netflix documentary, “QB1: Beyond the Lights,” Rattler was a senior at Pinnacle High School, and the conversations showed him criticizing his teammates, which did not make him look great and impacted his draft stock.

You know all those way-too-early mock drafts? Absent an obvious top-end prospect coming into the 2022 class, a lot of folks projected Rattler, then Oklahoma’s starter, to go in the top five. Some had him first, based largely on Rattler’s recruiting ranking, some promise after his first year with the Sooners, and Lincoln Riley’s previous three starters at OU all going in the top 50 picks, with Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray drafted first in consecutive drafts.


So what Rapoport reported during the draft had followed Rattler through his benching for Caleb Williams at OU and over to South Carolina, where he played in 2022 and ’23.


The truth is most NFL people would have told you before the draft he was going in the fourth round or so, and he went a round later. He also was picked 23 slots behind where the Saints took Jake Haener last year. So to answer your question, it’s not likely he’ll replace Carr.


New York Giants quarterback Drew Lock
It's not likely that Lock beats out Jones for the starting job with the Giants. / Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

From Bobby Spence (@postcrabcore): Drew Lock competing for QB1?


Bobby, if you mean getting first-team reps with Daniel Jones in New York Giants training camp, then I think the answer is no. But the Seahawks really liked the progress they saw from Lock over the two years he spent there, enough to where maybe you could close your eyes and envision his story playing out like the guy that beat him out, Geno Smith, in Seattle.


And because Jones is coming off an ACL tear, and won’t be back on the practice field, there’s an opening here. While you can only show so much in the spring, the fact that the New York Giants didn’t draft a quarterback will afford Lock starter reps through all the noncontact practices in May and June. If he makes an impression, and Jones stumbles in training camp, could things turn at some point in August?


I wouldn’t bet on that happening, but I wouldn’t rule it out.


San Francisco 49ers receiver Deebo Samuel
Samuel could be the odd man out in San Francisco. / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

From Joe Douglas SZN (@F---AdamGase): Do you think Deebo or Aiyuk gets traded? If yes, which teams could be in play?


Joe, a couple of months ago, I thought Brandon Aiyuk could be the odd man out in the San Francisco 49ers’ bottleneck of big contracts. My logic matched the logic the 49ers used in dealing All-Pro DeForest Buckner four years ago—when they chose a guy who had massive value to other teams, and played a position where the team had a surplus of talent.


I’ve now changed my thinking. If there’s a guy that could get moved, it’s probably Deebo Samuel, with San Francisco looking to get an extension for Aiyuk done, the team’s best pure receiver. Samuel, a great player, may be seen as more of a luxury to have at this point, especially with another do-everything type in Christian McCaffrey (who may look for a pay bump of his own this summer).


Samuel’s also under contract, and has a lot of mileage on his legs, which is the reality of playing him the way the 49ers do, as a receiver and as a running back.


As for fits for Samuel, I think you’d look at some of the usual suspects in that coaching tree. San Francisco won’t trade him to the Los Angeles Rams, and I can’t imagine they’d send him to the Green Bay Packers, either. The Atlanta Falcons, with OC Zac Robinson, might make some sense. The New York Jets could, too, as a piece for the receiver group, and for some depth behind Breece Hall at tailback. And a reunion with Mike McDaniel and the Miami Dolphins could be fun.


Speaking of that …


Miami Dolphins running back Jaylen Wright
The Dolphins added more speed to their offense with Wright, a fourth-round pick. / Matt Stone/Louisville Courier Journal /

From Tua Messivailoa (@TuasRevenge): Are the Miami Dolphins assembling the fastest team of all time?


Tua, yes, they appear to be doing just that. And I’m assuming you’re referencing fourth-round pick Jaylen Wright, a tailback out of Tennessee who averaged 7.4 yards per carry over three years in Knoxville, then blazed a 4.38 in the 40-yard dash at the combine.


The disconnect, of course, is that he only averaged 11 carries per game, and the home-run hitter element he brought to the Tennessee backfield was mixed with inconsistency as an inside runner and as a receiver. Last year’s rookie dynamo in Miami, De’Von Achane, by comparison, and who’s more than 20 pounds lighter, averaged nearly 20 carries per game in his final season at Texas A&M.


So it’ll be interesting seeing how McDaniel and the coaches add Wright to the mix with a huddle that’s already stocked with legitimate speed in Achane, Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle. My guess would be McDaniel will find a way to get some big plays from him, and make an already headache-inducing offense even more of a nightmare for defenses.


Georgia pass rusher Mykel Williams
Williams could be a top pass-rushing prospect in the 2025 NFL draft. / Saul Young/News Sentinel / USA TODAY

From Glen Phelps (@PhelpsGlen62041): Very preliminary, but what appear to be the strengths of the 2025 draft?


Glen, just scanning some lists, but it sure looks like there are a lot of high-end pass-rushing prospects in the group—Georgia’s Mykel Williams, LSU’s Harold Perkins, Ohio State’s J.T. Tuimoloau along with transfers such as Texas A&M’s Nic Scourton and Ole Miss’ Princely Umanmielen. So it sure looks like there’s a good group that could be part of the early draft conversation.


The other thing I see is another good year at offensive tackle with LSU’s Will Campbell and Texas’ Kelvin Banks Jr. in that mix.


From Strickly Speakin’ (@SpiderStrick): Do you foresee any more tweaking to the Commanders’ front office now that we’ve reached the time of year those things tend to happen?


Probably not a lot, Speakin’. Just looking at the landscape, the decision to retain Martin Mayhew was a big one for GM Adam Peters, given Mayhew’s experience in two different places as a GM, and the experience the two had together in San Francisco (and the fact that he was willing to take a step back from the GM role and stay in Washington says a lot about Mahew). Also, Peters already brought Lance Newmark over from Detroit to be his assistant GM.


So I think anything that happens on the scouting side would qualify as tweaking. What’s more likely is the Commanders adding to the staff for analytics chief Eugene Shen.


From Don Ridenour & CEO of Klutch Sports Rich Paul (@DonRidenour): Besides Marvin Harrison Jr, what team got the best value for a player from Ohio State?


Houston Texans tight end Cade Stover
Stover was a reliable target for C.J. Stroud in 2022. / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

With a nod to Tommy “Two Hands” Eichenberg going to the Las Vegas Raiders, give me Cade Stover to the Houston Texans. The third-rounder is still just learning to be a tight end, and was a reliable target for C.J. Stroud in 2022. He’s tough as nails, a bull in the open field, and reliable.


I’d bet on him developing, and becoming a more polished route runner, working with a really good offensive staff and his old quarterback.

Albert Breer