The Chicago Bears are poised to draft Caleb Williams with the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft

CHICAGO (AP) — Caleb Williams might want some deep dish recommendations.

The Chicago Bears are poised to select the USC quarterback with the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft and bank on the 2022 Heisman Trophy winner to stabilize a position that has long haunted the founding NFL franchise.

They made their intentions clear when they traded Justin Fields to Pittsburgh last month. And barring a major surprise, commissioner Roger Goodell will call Williams' name when the pick is made.

“It's Caleb Williams all the way,” ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said.

Williams checks all the boxes for the Bears with his arm strength and ability to avoid defenders. He can make throws on the run and in the pocket, an area where Fields struggled.

Williams threw 72 touchdown passes with only 10 interceptions the past two seasons at USC after a year at Oklahoma. He followed coach Lincoln Riley from Norman to Los Angeles and became the Trojans' seventh Heisman winner in 2022.

The Bears finished 7-10 in their second season under general manager Ryan Poles and coach Matt Eberflus after going 3-14 in 2022 and setting a franchise record for losses.

They have the first pick thanks to their blockbuster trade with Carolina a year ago for receiver DJ Moore. Chicago dealt the No. 1 pick in 2023 to the Panthers and got their 2024 first-rounder. With Carolina finishing a league-worst 2-15, Chicago wound up in the top spot.

Williams would have playmakers to work with in Chicago, with a pair of elite receivers in Moore and recently acquired Keenan Allen and two productive tight ends in Cole Kmet and newcomer Gerald Everett.

What's not clear is what the Bears will do with their pick at No. 9, whether they go for a receiver or maybe an edge rusher. Chicago's only other picks are a third-rounder (75) and a fourth-rounder (122).


In addition to quarterback, the Bears could use another receiver as well as an edge rusher opposite Montez Sweat. They also need help on the offensive line.


The Bears seem set at tight end and a secondary led by cornerback Jaylon Johnson appears is in a good spot.


This is where the intrigue is.

Though the Bears already have two playmaking receivers, Allen is on an expiring contract. Adding another pass catcher at No. 9 is a likely possibility. If Chicago goes that route, Washington's Rome Odunze and LSU's Malik Nabers could be options assuming Ohio State's Marvin Harrison Jr. is off the board.

Then again, the Bears need to boost their pass rush. The Monsters of the Midway finished 31st in sacks despite getting a big lift from Sweat in a midseason trade with Washington. Florida State defensive end Jared Verse and Alabama’s Dallas Turner might be possibilities.

“If (Odunze) is there, you gotta take him,” Kiper said. “If he's not, do you trade down? ... They have some defined need areas. It's gonna be interesting to see once they get Caleb, what do they do at 9 if Odunze is gone."


Another thought: The Bears could choose to protect Williams' blind side and draft a left tackle at No. 9, particularly if the top three receivers are off the board.

Notre Dame's Joe Alt might be the pick in that scenario. The 6-foot-9, 321-pounder is the son of a two-time Pro Bowl offensive lineman. His brother played in the NHL.

The Bears drafted Darnell Wright with the No. 10 pick a year ago. The Tennessee product started all 17 games as a rookie.


The Bears are poised to take a player with the first overall pick for the first time since 1947, when George Halas gambled on Oklahoma A&M halfback Bob Fenimore despite a knee injury that cut short his senior season. The former All-American lasted just one year in the NFL.

Chicago's only other No. 1 pick was Michigan halfback Tom Harmon in 1941.

The 1940 Heisman Trophy winner declined to sign with the Bears, saying he was finished with football. Harmon served as a pilot in World War II and eventually played two seasons for the Los Angeles Rams before moving on to a career in broadcasting.