2024 NFL Draft

Caleb Williams Not Certain To Enter 2024 NFL Draft?

The 2023 college football season is underway, and USC quarterback Caleb Williams led his team to a resounding victory over San Jose State in the first game of the campaign by completing 18 of 25 passes for 278 yards and four TDs. Williams, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner who has drawn favorable comparisons to quarterbacks like Peyton Manning, Andrew Luck, and Trevor Lawrence, is off to a hot start.

Assuming that he continues to perform at a high level and does not suffer a major injury, there is every reason to believe that Williams will be the first player selected in next year’s NFL draft (or at least the first QB). Indeed, as ESPN’s Pete Thamel writes, Williams’ father, Carl, asked schools when his son was being recruited how those schools planned to help Caleb on the path to becoming the NFL’s No. 1 overall pick in 2024.

However, Williams is still leaving his options open, and he suggested that he could remain with the Trojans for what would be his senior season next year.

“That’s for sure now going to be an in-the-moment decision at the end of the year,” Williams said. “It’s my third year, and the dream and goal was to go three-and-out (to turn pro after three seasons in college). Being around these guys and in college and enjoying it, we’ll have to see at the end of this year.”

On the one hand, it’s not surprising for a player in Williams’ situation to be non-committal, even if he has every intention of entering the draft as soon as he is eligible to do so. After all, there is still a long way to go between now and the time when he must declare for the draft, and it stands to reason that his focus is currently on helping USC win football games (which will only help his draft stock). But ESPN’s Matt Miller has heard that if the team that would be most likely to select Williams is not a team that Williams wants to play for, the talented passer could forego the draft and try again in 2025.

Obviously, that would be an exceedingly risky strategy that could backfire in a big way. If Miller’s sources are accurate, it could also create a scenario like the one that unfolded in 2004, when the Chargers held the No. 1 overall pick and hoped to make Eli Manning their long-term signal-caller. Manning had made it clear, however, that he did not want to play for the San Diego franchise, so while the Chargers did draft the Ole Miss product, they quickly swung a deal with the Giants whereby Manning wound up with Big Blue and Philip Rivers landed with the Chargers, a transaction that had an indelible impact on both clubs and on the league as a whole.

Another factor at play here is the fact that collegians are now entitled to earn money through Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) ventures, and as one of the top athletes in all of college sports, Williams has taken full advantage of that. As noted in a recent article by the Sports Business Journal, Williams has built a “seven-figure portfolio” through deals with brands like Beats by Dre and PlayStation, so he may have the financial wherewithal to pass on an NFL landing spot that he considers less than ideal.

Williams spent 2021, his first college season, at Oklahoma before transferring to USC in 2022. Across those two years, he completed 469 of 711 passes (a 65.9% completion rate) for 67 TDs against just nine interceptions. He also carried the ball 192 times for 824 yards (a 4.3 YPC rate) and 16 scores.

QB Notes: Hooker, Dolphins, Watson, Draft

The Lions added one of the draft’s most talked-about quarterbacks in Hendon Hooker. The third-rounder is rehabbing the ACL tear which ended his college career, and 2023 is not expected to see him on the field much, if at all.

Hooker has been making progress in his recovery, however, and he indicated last month that he is ahead of schedule. Detroit has no need to rush the Tennessee alum, with veteran Jared Goff in place and high expectations for the offense as a whole after last year’s performance. Hooker remains on a positive track to be available at some point during the year.

The 25-year-old said that he is “progressing very well,” via Cora Hall of the Knoxville News Sentinel. The Lions are not thought to be seeking an addition to their QB room, pointing further to Hooker being available if need be, perhaps as early as the fall. His recovery will be worth watching during training camp and the preseason.

Here are some other quarterback-related notes:

  • Plenty of attention will be focused on the pivot position during the season for the Dolphins, given the health uncertainty surrounding Tua Tagovailoa. The backup spot is up for grabs this summer, with 2022 second-rounder Skylar Thompson and free agent signing Mike White vying for the QB2 role. The former “appears to have the early lead” in the competition, per Adam Beasley of Pro Football Network. Thompson made two starts to close out the regular season, and was in place for the team’s narrow playoff loss to the Bills. Moving on from veteran Teddy Bridgewater, Miami inked White to a two-year, $8MM deal. That investment was larger than the team anticipated they would make, and it is noteworthy White could be third in the pecking order heading into training camp. Beasley notes that the Dolphins’ Week 1 backup may not yet be on the current roster, and Bridgewater is one of a few veterans still on the open market.
  • Deshaun Watson‘s 11-game suspension made his debut Browns campaign a shortened one, and his brief stint at the end of the season was far from the Pro Bowl level of production he has demonstrated earlier in his career. During his first full offseason in Cleveland, though, the returns have been impressive. Watson drew positive reviews for his work in the spring in addressing the issues most prevalent in his 2022 play, as noted by Pro Football Network’s Adam Caplan. A step forward from the 27-year-old – along with the Browns’ re-tooled receiver room – would go a long way in helping Cleveland return to the postseason and justifying the team’s enormous investment (in both trade capital and finances) in him.
  • The 2024 draft class is headlined by a few highly-touted passers, and it comes as no surprise that USC’s Caleb Williams and North Carolina’s Drake Maye are receiving the most attention at the top of the board. The pair are thought to be in a QB tier of their own entering the college season, as detailed by Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated. Williams won the Heisman trophy in 2022 and has drawn comparisons to Peyton Manning, Andrew Luck and Trevor Lawrence with respect to how he is rated as an NFL prospect. Maye, meanwhile, finds himself behind Williams in summer rankings, but trainer Jordan Palmer (one of the evaluators with whom Breer discussed the top QB prospects) stated that he would be the No. 1 option at the position in most drafts. Wideout Marvin Harrison Jr. has been named as a possible contender for the top pick in April, but Williams and Maye likely represent the favorites for that distinction heading into the fall.

WR Notes: Harrison, Parker, Wideman

Plenty of time remains until the 2024 NFL draft will become an area of serious concern around the league, but a few figures can comfortably be considered first-round locks. One of those is Ohio State receiver Marvin Harrison Jr., who is in line for a repeat of his hugely productive 2022 season this fall.

The son of Colts Hall of Famer Marvin Harrison, the 6-3, 202-pounder lit up the statsheet last campaign. Harrison recorded 77 catches for 1,263 yards and 14 touchdowns, and he is expected to follow that up in 2023 after the departure of Jaxon Smith-Njigba. Other pass-catchers will be worth watching for the Buckeyes (including Emeka Egbuka), but Harrison will enter the season as the top-ranked wideout in the ’24 draft class.

In fact, he could find himself in contention for the No. 1 overall spot, according to at least one NFL general manager. The unnamed exec said, via ESPN’s Matt Miller“We haven’t had a wide receiver drafted first overall since Keyshawn [Johnson], but Harrison could push that – even in a draft with Caleb Williams.”

The presence of not only Williams but also a group of signal-callers including UNC’s Drake Maye in this class would make it surprising for Harrison to hear his name called first at this point. His substantial potential will nevertheless make him a name to watch as the season takes shape.

Here are some other receiver-related notes:

  • The Patriots recently retained DeVante Parker on a three-year extension worth up to $33MM. $14MM in guarantees is reportedly included in the deal, but its base value this year ($1.22MM) and next ($3.3MM) leaves most of his compensation set to be earned via incentives, as detailed (on Twitter) by Henry McKenna of Fox Sports and corroborated by ESPN’s Mike Reiss. The pact’s incentives are tied to playing time, reception and yardage totals and All-Pro honors, which comes as little surprise given the modest statline Parker put up (31-539-3) in his debut Patriots campaign. Reiss notes that more than half of the value of the contract will be tied to incentives, making the former Dolphins’ performance a key storyline to follow moving forward.
  • The NFL will conduct a supplemental draft for the first time since 2019, and a pair of receivers are known to have been granted eligibility for selection. One of them – Malachi Wideman – will audition himself to teams during a Pro Day this Saturday (Twitter link via Aaron Wilson of KRPC2). Wideman had a productive stint with Jackson State, which, coupled with an impressive showing on the weekend, could put him on the radar of being selected. The supplemental draft will take place on July 11, and teams will have the opportunity to acquire Wideman, Milton Wright and any other eligible players at the expense of 2024 entry draft capital.

Traded NFL Draft Picks For 2024

As teams regroup on potential trade talks, 2024 draft picks represent the top non-player assets available. Although the usual run of draft-weekend trades featured teams moving up and down the 2023 board, a high number of 2024 picks have changed hands. The Cardinals resided at the center of such movement, but many other teams have already made changes to their 2024 draft arsenals. Three first-rounders have already been traded, and a fourth — barring an Aaron Rodgers injury — will be expected to transfer.

Here are the 2024 picks to have changed hands thus far:

Round 1

Round 2

Round 3

  • Lions obtained Vikings‘ pick in 2022 deadline deal that sent T.J. Hockenson to Minnesota
  • As part of Payton trade, Broncos collected Saints‘ third
  • As part of Anderson trade, Cardinals acquired Texans’ 2024 third
  • Cardinals picked up Titans‘ 2024 third in deal that allowed Tennessee to draft Will Levis at No. 33
  • Seahawks acquired third from Broncos in exchange for No. 83 overall pick (CB Riley Moss)
    • It is not yet known if Seattle will add Denver or New Orleans’ 2024 third
  • Texans landed third from Eagles in trade for No. 105 (CB Kelee Ringo)

Round 4

Round 5

Round 6

Round 7

Packers Sought Russell Wilson-Type Haul For Aaron Rodgers; Jets Debated Stronger Derek Carr Push

Aaron Rodgers has begun attending Jets offseason workouts, but it took an extensive process for the Packers to move him off their roster. The teams had different goals when they begun negotiations.

The Packers initially sought a trade package comparable to the haul the Seahawks received for Russell Wilson or the Lions picked up for Matthew Stafford, Brian Costello of the New York Post reports. But with Rodgers moving out of the picture in Green Bay, the Jets were never expected to pay what it would have likely cost the Broncos (or another suitor) to pry Rodgers from the Packers in 2021 or ’22. Still, the lag time between the first Rodgers-related discussion between Packers GM Brian Gutekunst and Jets counterpart Joe Douglas — in January, when the latter represented the only interested party among those Gutekunst contacted — led to some uncertainty.

Just before Derek Carr committed to the Saints, Jets brass debated if they should make a stronger push for the longtime Raiders quarterback, Costello adds. The Jets hosted Carr in February and met with him again at the Combine. Though, Gang Green viewed the 10th-year veteran as its Rodgers backup plan throughout the process. With the Jets not knowing until March 12 Rodgers was even planning to play in 2023, they saw their top backup plan vanish when Carr signed with the Saints on March 6.

Shortly after the Jets hired Nathaniel Hackett as OC — a move widely rumored to be a Rodgers-related decision — Robert Saleh instructed his staff to study Jimmy Garoppolo and Ryan Tannehill, SI.com’s Albert Breer notes. The former 49ers starter surfaced as a Jets option, while the longtime Titans first-stringer has been involved in trade rumors this year. But the Jets waited out Rodgers and received confirmation, via the four-time MVP’s agent contacting Douglas, his client was onboard with the Jets.

The Packers could have obtained more in a trade for Rodgers had they unloaded him in 2021 or ’22, but Jordan Love had not progressed to the point the team was ready to roll with the former No. 26 overall pick. Gutekunst sought to tell Rodgers the Packers planned to field a younger roster this season and make moves to help their salary cap, per Breer, with this meaning Rodgers favorites Randall Cobb, Robert Tonyan and Marcedes Lewis would not be back. (Cobb is now a Jet, with Lewis potentially on the team’s radar.) Of course, Gutekunst and Rodgers never got around to a meeting regarding his future. The parties had multiple January meetings in California scheduled, Breer adds; neither came to fruition. Gutekunst dealt with Rodgers’ agent during the trade talks.

As for the trade price, one of the Jets’ counterproposals — during the sides’ off-and-on talks — involved a 2025 Packers second-round pick coming back in the event Rodgers did not return in 2024. The March Rodgers-Jets summit did not involve discussion about how much longer Rodgers would play, though that later became an understandable component of the Jets’ trade push. Instead of the Jets receiving a 2025 second from the Packers — in the event Rodgers retires after this season — the teams agreed on the deal that included the 2024 first-rounder being a conditional pick and not a locked-in 1, Breer adds. That said, Rodgers has only failed to play 65% of his team’s offensive snaps twice in his 15-year starter run. It represents a fairly safe bet the Jets will send the Packers their 2024 first-rounder in this swap.

Rather than the 65% figure, the Jets wanted to tie the 2024 draft choice to team placement, per Breer. But the Packers did this in the Brett Favre trade 15 years ago; the Green Bay icon’s biceps injury ended up leading the Jets out of the playoff race and reducing the Pack’s compensation to a 2009 third-rounder. With Packers president Mark Murphy involved in both negotiations, the Packers did not relent on a refusal to tie the pick to the Jets’ 2023 record.

Douglas was a bit leery about a potential post-draft suitor emerging as an alternative for Rodgers, Breer adds. The Jets had lost Tyreek Hill to the Dolphins in a two-team race last year. The All-Pro wideout was nearly a Jet, but when the Dolphins entered the fray, Miami became Hill’s preferred destination. This helped provide the impetus for the Jets to complete the deal by the draft, even as no other teams were closely connected to Rodgers this offseason.

The 2023 pick-swap component also did not enter the negotiations until late. That turned out to matter, with many believing the Jets were prepared to draft tackle Broderick Jones in Round 1. The Steelers moved up three spots, from No. 17 to No. 14, to prevent that from happening. New York selected edge rusher Will McDonald with its Green Bay-obtained No. 15 pick. The Packers chose Iowa pass rusher Lukas Van Ness at 13.

Broncos Field Calls On Wide Receivers

MAY 1: As expected, the calls did pertain to Jeudy and Sutton’s availability, Breer adds. Although the Broncos crowded their receiver room by drafting Mims, the Payton-Paton regime stuck to their previous Jeudy-Sutton prices — a first-rounder for Jeudy, a second for Sutton. Those picks would now need to come in the 2024 draft (or later, potentially). But momentum has slowed on a Jeudy or Sutton trade. The Broncos picked up Jeudy’s fifth-year option Monday.

APRIL 29: The Broncos made their first Sean Payton-era pick a fairly surprising one, trading into the back of the second round for Oklahoma wide receiver Marvin Mims. As a result, Denver’s receiver room is crowded.

Already rostering former first-round pick Jerry Jeudy and ex-second-rounders Courtland Sutton and KJ Hamler, Denver has UDFA success story Tim Patrick fully cleared from his training camp ACL tear. The team also signed ex-Payton Saints charge Marquez Callaway in free agency. It certainly seems like the group could be broken up, on some level, after the team chose Mims at No. 63.

Indeed, Albert Breer of SI.com reports the Broncos received a few calls on two of their receivers after taking Mims (Twitter link). It is fair to assume that, since Patrick is coming off an ACL tear and Hamler is rehabbing a torn pectoral muscle, the calls came in for oft-discussed trade candidates Jeudy and Sutton.

Denver has set a high price on its top two wideouts, having sought a first-rounder for Jeudy and a second for Sutton. Payton and GM George Paton said the plan is for Jeudy to be back, and Payton also said the team does not intend to trade Sutton. Drafts can change teams’ plans, but the Broncos have rebuffed offers thus far. Teams are also being stingy with 2024 picks, per Breer, who adds that draft is viewed as stronger than this one — particularly toward the top.

The Broncos, who also have return man Montrell Washington on their roster, drafted Mims in part for his return capabilities. But the Oklahoma speedster should be expected to mix in on offense early. That puts Hamler’s deep-threat role in question, assuming the Broncos hang onto Jeudy and Sutton. While the Broncos drafted Hamler in the 2020 second round, the ex-Penn State speed merchant has been unable to stay healthy as a pro.

Latest On Texans’ No. 2 Overall Pick

A stream of skepticism about the Texans taking C.J. Stroud second overall has come out over the past few weeks. With Bryce Young all but certain to go No. 1 overall to the Panthers, Stroud’s chances to be the next name announced may depend on trade offers the Texans receive.

Nick Caserio said teams have called regarding Houston’s No. 2 pick, and if genuine interest exists in Stroud, rumblings about a Texans trade-down will intensify as we move closer to the draft. The Texans passing on a QB at 2 and rolling the dice ahead of Caserio’s third season in charge — which the GM insists will take place, rather than an abrupt exit — would be one of the more interesting draft decisions in recent memory, but that appears to be where this is headed.

Some on Houston’s staff do not appear as high on Stroud compared to Young, whom the Texans presumably targeted when they entered trade talks with the Bears for No. 1, and Jason La Canfora of the Washington Post notes the team’s interest in taking Will Levis or Anthony Richardson that high does not appear strong. A previous report indicated a value gap between Young and the other QBs existed in Houston as well. This would open the door to a pass rusher pick, and La Canfora adds more fuel to the Tyree Wilson-over-Will Anderson Jr. fire by indicating execs expect the Texans — should they be unable to trade the pick — to take the Texas Tech edge rusher over Alabama’s two-time Bronko Nagurski award winner.

Stroud’s choice of agent may at least be a fringe issue for the Texans. Deshaun Watson‘s agent, David Mulugheta, is representing Stroud. The bad blood between Mulugheta and Texans ownership dates to Watson — before the run of sexual misconduct allegations surfaced — asking for a trade months after signing a four-year extension. One anonymous GM offers that Mulugheta’s top 2023 rookie client becoming the face of the Texans would be a “nonstarter” for owner Cal McNair, La Canfora adds. As could be expected, the Texans are not exactly over the Watson ugliness that included a paid full-season absence and a settlement with 30 Watson accusers who had sued the team or were preparing to do so.

While the agent component would serve as an interesting reason to pass on a well-regarded quarterback, Texans coaches also being iffy on Stroud may bring enough concerns to follow through with a non-QB pick or trade-down scenario. In the event the Texans can move down, La Canfora adds the Texans would want to stay in the top 10. That would wall off the Titans at No. 11; Houston trading up so Tennessee can take a quarterback would be an unusual development as well. The Titans, who joined the Raiders in venturing to QB pro days but not in hosting passers on visits, loom as a wild card. They have both been connected to moving up and being too iffy on the QB crop to do so.

The Raiders and Falcons continue to generate buzz as a trade-up candidates, per La Canfora, who adds a Titans move up — be it to No. 2 or the Cardinals’ No. 3 slot — would most likely be for Stroud. The Raiders have done extensive homework on QBs, meeting with the five top prospects, while the Falcons hosted Stroud on a visit this week.

Were the Texans to pass on a QB, they would essentially be further delaying their rebuild. The team trading down only to use its No. 12 overall pick to move back up for a passer would bring some odd complications to a process that could wrap by simply drafting a passer at 2. While other roster areas appear somewhat improved from 2022, Houston waiting until 2024 to acquire its franchise-QB hopeful would extend this already-lengthy rebuild. Then again, team connections to using a top-10 selection on a quarterback often include talk of that franchise not expecting to be picking high again. That has not been an issue for the Texans, who have either landed a top-three pick or seen their draft choice fall in that territory in each of the past three years.

And, if the Texans actually exit the first round with Case Keenum and Davis Mills as their top QBs, Caleb Williams (USC) and Drake Maye (North Carolina) continue to generate considerable attention around the NFL a year away from their draft eligibility.

Titans To Hire Ran Carthon As GM

Hours after a finalist contingent emerged, the Titans have made their choice. They plan to hire 49ers director of player personnel Ran Carthon as their next general manager, Dianna Russini and Jeff Darlington of ESPN.com report (on Twitter).

Carthon, who has been with the 49ers for six years, joined Bears assistant GM Ian Cunningham and Titans interim GM Ryan Cowden as the finalists for this position. A day after the Cardinals hired Titans exec Monti Ossenfort, the league’s last GM vacancy — for the time being, at least — is now filled.

Carthon, 41, has been an NFL staffer since 2008 and has held high-ranking titles for the 49ers and Rams. A former Florida Gators running back and son of ex-Giants fullback and longtime NFL assistant Maurice Carthon, Ran has been in the mix for GM roles for a bit now. He interviewed for the Bears, Giants and Steelers’ GM jobs last year and met with the Cardinals last week. Carthon will now be set to team with Mike Vrabel in Tennessee.

The Titans hiring Carthon, who is Black, will equip the 49ers with third-round picks this year and in 2024. Due to the NFL modifying its Rooney Rule to reward third-round selections to teams who hire minority execs as GMs or minority assistant coaches as HCs, the 49ers will benefit again. They have been given eight third-round picks — for the hires of Martin Mayhew, Robert Saleh, Mike McDaniel and now Carthon — since the NFL greenlit this rule. Carthon becomes the sixth minority GM hired since 2021.

Tennessee’s hire doubles as one of the more unique GM additions in recent history. No HC change is in sight, with Vrabel having established himself as one of the league’s most respected coaches. Carthon, then, will be tasked with working alongside the sixth-year Titans HC to retool the roster. Titans owner Amy Adams Strunk made the surprising decision to fire Jon Robinson less than a year after giving him an extension that ran through the 2027 draft. The Titans signed both Vrabel and Robinson to new deals in February 2022, but Adams Strunk reversed course and cited personnel decisions and the team’s repeated trouble with injuries as reasons for the Robinson ouster.

Hired in 2016, Robinson helped rebuild the Titans into a consistent contender. He tabbed Vrabel in 2018, and the two guided the Titans to three straight playoff berths from 2019-21. This year brought change, with the most notable move being the A.J. Brown trade. Adams Strunk said Brown scoring twice against the Titans did not impact her decision to fire Robinson, despite the firing coming soon after the Tennessee-Philadelphia matchup in December. One of Carthon’s duties will be to help rebuild a Titans receiving corps that dearly missed Brown this season. Overall, the Titans closed the season with seven straight losses, going from the AFC’s No. 1 seed in 2021 to a team with a 7-10 record and a less stable future a year later.

The 49ers, who hired Carthon in 2017 after his five-year tenure as the Rams’ director pro personnel, promoted him from director of pro personnel to director of player personnel in 2021. Following Mayhew’s 2021 exit, Carthon joined Adam Peters as a top John Lynch lieutenant. The 49ers have ventured to two NFC championship games and a Super Bowl during Carthon’s tenure, and their pro personnel department oversaw quite the seminal transaction in 2017 — a trade for Jimmy Garoppolo. The 49ers have withstood injuries to both Garoppolo and Trey Lance this year to become the NFC’s No. 2 seed behind seventh-round rookie Brock Purdy. Although Peters is viewed as the most likely Lynch successor, Carthon with have the chance to work as front office leader first. The Titans tried to interview Peters, but the 49ers’ assistant GM declined the opportunity.

This move could lead Cowden elsewhere, though that is not yet certain. Robinson hired both Cowden and Ossenfort, and the former — who joined Robinson’s staff from the jump seven years ago — worked as Tennessee’s interim GM to close out this season. Cunningham also interviewed for both the Titans and Cardinals’ GM posts. Considering Cunningham just completed his first year in an assistant GM role, this GM hiring cycle illustrated the league’s view of his work.

USC QB Caleb Williams Potential 2024 No. 1 Pick

When USC met with UCLA in the teams’ annual matchup, scouts were present to evaluate both teams’ rosters. While many were watching draft-eligible players, two scouts couldn’t help but notice USC quarterback Caleb Williams despite the 20-year-old not being draft-eligible until next year, according to Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times.

Williams put on a show for the scouts in an offensive shootout, completing nearly 75% of his passes for 470 yards and two touchdowns through the air, adding on 33 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown, as well. This was more of the same for Williams who arrived on the college football scene last season at Oklahoma. Over 11 games, seven of them starts, with the Sooners, Williams passed for 1,912 yards and 21 touchdowns with four interceptions.

After transferring alongside head coach Lincoln Riley to Southern California, Williams exploded as a sophomore. He improved all his passing numbers as a full-time starter throwing for 4,075 yards and 37 touchdowns while still limiting his interceptions to just four through 13 games so far this year. He is set to play in the Cotton Bowl against Tulane after a defeat to the Pac-12 Champion Utes knocked the Trojans out of the College Football Playoff race. Williams was rewarded for his strong season with a Heisman Trophy, a Maxwell Award, and a Walter Camp Award, all honors given to college football’s most outstanding players.

So what did scouts have to say about watching Williams this season? They told Farmer that “there’s a real chance Williams could be the No. 1 overall pick” in 2024. One scout claimed he would’ve been the top quarterback prospect last year, in a draft crop that included Kenny Pickett, Desmond Ridder, Malik Willis, Matt Corral, Bailey Zappe, Sam Howell, Chris Oladokun, Skylar Thompson, and Brock Purdy. While it’s not nearly as clearcut, the same scout even ventured that Williams would have a shot at being a top quarterback in this year’s draft crop which includes Alabama’s Bryce Young, Kentucky’s Will Levis, Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud, Florida’s Anthony Richardson, and Tennessee’s Hendon Hooker, among others. If Williams could’ve been the top quarterback prospect in the league’s two most recent draft crops, who’s to say he couldn’t be a top pick next year, as well?

The second scout was in attendance for Williams’s first start at Oklahoma last year as a freshman and raved about the “it” factor Williams has had since the beginning. Both praised his athleticism and arm talent, his timing and accuracy, but throwing in “the moxie, the confidence” as well as “instinctive values that you can’t teach” gives Williams intangibles that help put him above the rest of the crowd.

It’s far too soon to determine where Williams’s competition will come from next year. Fellow young stars like North Carolina’s Drake Maye or Texas’s Quinn Ewers may push Williams for the top pick. A new unproven starter like Alabama’s Jalen Milroe or Ohio State’s Kyle McCord may have a breakout season. Experienced veterans at the college level like Washington’s Michael Penix or Florida State’s Jordan Travis may make a case. Transferring stars like former Chanticleer Grayson McCall, former Tiger D.J. Uiagalelei, or former Wolfpack quarterback Devin Leary could find a new home to excel in and catch the eyes of scouts.

Williams has lots of pressure on his shoulders heading into his junior season. The reigning Heisman champion will have all eyes on him as he tries to lead the Trojans to the College Football Playoffs that they just missed this year. He’ll be attempting to match his production from this season or, at the very least, not damage his draft stock while holding off all other contenders for the right to be the top passer in the draft. It will be a challenge for Williams to maintain the title of top quarterback prospect, let alone the No. 1 overall pick.

Bears To Acquire N’Keal Harry From Patriots

After spending nearly 18 months in trade rumors, N’Keal Harry has a new home. The Patriots are sending the former first-round pick to the Bears, Mike Garafolo and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com report (on Twitter).

The Bears have added a few new wideouts this offseason, one in which they said goodbye to Allen Robinson after four years. They will take a shot with Harry, who is going into a contract year.

The Bears will send a 2024 seventh-round pick to the Pats, Rapoport tweets. Harry is due a $1.87MM base salary in 2022. The Patriots will save around $1.2MM by dealing him. This will provide a bit of breathing room for the Patriots, who entered Tuesday with the least amount of cap room — under $2MM.

Considering Harry’s status as the highest-drafted wideout in Bill Belichick‘s 23-offseason Patriots tenure, his New England career and this trade return represent a massive disappointment. The Pats had traded for DeVante Parker and traded up for wideout Tyquan Thornton in this year’s second round. Harry had been moved off the radar and, after a recent report that indicated the Pats could excuse the injury-prone receiver from training camp or drop him ahead of that point, the Bears moved in to see if a rebound of some sort can commence.

Acquired ahead of Tom Brady‘s final Patriots season, Harry missed most of that turbulent year for the Pats’ receiving corps. The Pats had Josh Gordon, Antonio Brown and Mohamed Sanu on their roster at points that season, but the year unfolded with scant Harry involvement. A preseason ankle injury limited Harry to seven games in 2019. He missed five last season, with shoulder and knee maladies sidelining him. A healthier 2020 (33 receptions, 309 yards, two touchdowns) did not stop Harry’s freefall, and the Patriots acquired Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne last year. That preceded a 12-catch Harry 2021 season and persistent trade/cut rumors.

While this wraps another Belichick-era draft miss at the receiver position, the Bears feature a less settled pass-catching corps. Behind Darnell Mooney, uncertainty resides ahead of Luke Getsy‘s first OC season.. Chicago signed Byron Pringle, Equanimeous St. Brown, Dante Pettis, David Moore and Tajae Sharpe this offseason and used a third-round pick on Velus Jones. At 25, Jones is several months older than Harry, who will turn 25 in December.

Beyond Mooney and Jones, the Bears are taking a number of fliers. They will get one of the NFL’s biggest receivers in this trade. Harry goes 6-foot-4, 225 pounds. He ended his Arizona State career with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons and became the 32nd overall pick in 2019. Harry was that year’s second wide receiver selected, after only Marquise Brown. His going ahead of Deebo Samuel, A.J. Brown, D.K. Metcalf, Terry McLaurin and Diontae Johnson both reflected poorly on the Patriots and reveals the receiver talent that can be had beyond Round 1. But the fourth-year pass catcher will have a stretch to impress a new Bears regime.