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Can Caleb Williams have a breakout rookie season similar to CJ Stroud?

CJ Stroud caught a lot of fans by surprise last season. The reason primarily being that nobody expected him to have a breakout season as he did. The offensive Rookie of the Year ended up breaking numerous records and went on to lead the Houston Texans to the Divisional Round of the playoffs.

Fans have not seen a rookie quarterback have such a profound impact right out of the gates in a long time. However, this year, there is one man who has the potential to have a similar impact as Stroud.

That is none other than Caleb Williams out of USC. The first pick of the 2024 NFL Draft entered the league with much hype. As he looks to bring the Chicago Bears back to glory, Williams has been dubbed to perform at the same level as CJ Stroud if not better in his rookie year. However, that will be contingent upon how the organization decides to utilize him. If Williams does not put up rookie year numbers close to that of Stroud, there is a strong possibility that football fans will pump the brakes on his hype train.

The city of Chicago is often viewed as a place where quarterback careers go to die, but this time, with Caleb Williams at the helm, there is a renewed sense of energy within the organization. For the first time in years, the Bears have surrounded their rookie quarterback with the necessary support. With D.J. Moore, Rome Odunze, Keenan Allen, and Tyler Scott, phew. A quarterback could not have asked for better depth on his roster than this.

Caleb Williams will not be able to replicate the stellar rookie season that CJ Stroud had

Despite being set up for success, Williams will not be able to have a phenomenal rookie year like CJ Stroud. Controversial take indeed, but here is why.

When it comes to style of play, Williams has been compared to Patrick Mahomes because of his ability to throw passes from absurd angles. While it has worked phenomenally for him at the collegiate level, it is yet to be seen if the same can translate to the NFL.

Caleb WilliamsCaleb Williams
Caleb Williams (via IMAGO)

With that being said, it is unlikely that he will have an impact similar to CJ Stroud in his rookie year. The primary reason is that, even though he has the weapons necessary, Williams tends to risk going out of the pocket far too many times in order to get a better angle, while it has worked for him at USC if he does not switch things up, it will not help him in the NFL. Defenses are extremely quick at the pro level. The moment any QB leaves the pocket, the odds of him being sacked skyrocket.

Caleb Williams has a tendency to make unorthodox plays, which is a great skill to have in a quarterback, but on most occasions, you want the floor general to stick to the plan and the basics. If there is one thing that is evident about his game is that he loves to put on a show for the fans, but this can come at the cost of overlooking simple plays that are not the fanciest or make the jaws of fans drop.

Patience pays is one quote that cannot be applicable in the NFL. For Williams, it most certainly has proved to be detrimental to his game. He had 50 dropbacks and on average took more than 6 seconds to throw the football in 2023 according to Pro Football Focus. This was the longest in college football. A habit such as this is likely to translate into the pro-level as well, which means that unless Williams figures out a way to get rid of the ball quickly, he will end up taking a lot of hits.

Stroud ended up being the most pro-ready player in his draft class because he had a sense of mental toughness. His biggest strength was his ability to adapt to the game quickly and make changes on the go. Stroud’s ability to throw accurately into tight windows proved to be beneficial in the NFL and add the fact that he was able to build the perfect chemistry with his wide receivers, the Texans got the perfect recipe for success.

C.J. StroudC.J. Stroud
C.J. Stroud (via cj7stroud on Instagram)

If you compare the hype, Caleb Williams has a lot of expectations riding on his shoulders. This year, his grit and determination will be put to the test, the first pick of the draft is expected to play lights out from day 1, however, a mediocre game from Williams is bound to give his critics the perfect trampoline to jump on him and slander his name.

In conclusion, Williams might not have a bad career as an NFL quarterback. But the perception through which fans are likely to determine if he is really worth the hype or not is by comparing his performance to Stroud. Despite his own set of skills and talents, Caleb Williams will need a year to settle into the NFL gam.

His first season is likely to be a struggle, by the term ‘struggle’ a reference is being made to the fact that he will not necessarily be the missing piece responsible for elevating the Bears from a 7-10 record to a double-digit win record in his first year. But once he familiarizes himself with the NFL pace and is able to get accustomed to the physicality, he will thrive.

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