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Former No. 2 Overall Pick Harshly Critiques QB Caleb Williams

Former NFL quarterback Ryan Leaf had somewhat brutal comments toward USC quarterback Caleb Williams, who is projected to be the first prospect selected in the 2024 NFL draft. What did Leaf say about Williams as the draft inches closer?

Leaf, who is a College Football analyst for NFL Network, made an appearance on the Dan Patrick Show and voiced his opinion on what the Chicago Bears should do if they draft Williams with the first overall pick.

"He can't do what he did in college 75% of the time and be successful at the NFL level, he can do the 25% at the NFL level but he needs some time," Leaf said. Caleb Williams is accredited for his ability to extend plays with his legs and improvise when a play doesn't go as planned. The 2022 Heisman trophy winner showcases solid pocket presence, and awareness, and is extremely accurate when throwing on the run.

Caleb Williams playstyle led to numerous jaw-dropping moments throughout his tenure in college football, and Leaf perhaps doesn't think the USC quarterback's style of play can be as effective at the professional level. Leaf also added that Willams should get more comfortable under center and learn how to play more from the pocket. Former NFL players, scouts, and personnel always echo that structure is important when evaluating quarterbacks.

Former Texas A&M quarterback and heisman winner Johnny Manziel, who was a first-round pick in the 2014 draft, wasn't as talented as Williams but was also known for his off-script ability using his legs and making something out of nothing. Manziel lasted two seasons with the Cleveland Browns and never stepped foot on NFL turf since the 2015 regular season.

The USC quarterback 's ability to adlib outside the pocket not only allows him room the opportunity to run, but it also gives wideouts excess time to get free from defensive backs.

In the first play of the video, Caleb Williams showcases solid pocket presence and footwork by firmly planting his feet as he scans the field. After about six seconds in the pocket and no receivers open, the USC quarterback scrambles outside the pocket and eventually finds his receiver in the end zone while throwing the ball to where only he can catch it. In the second play, Williams rolls right, sets his feet, and launches a deep, yet accurate pass to fellow draft member Brenden Rice.

Across Williams two-season tenure at USC ('22-'23), Williams had a combined completion percentage of 67.6, 72 passing touchdowns, 8,170 passing yards while having averaged 9.2 yards per pass attempt, respectively. From the pocket in 2023, Williams completed 75 percent of his passes, 10 yards per pass attempt, and had 22 touchdown passes, respectively.

"Like any team that has drafted a quarterback in the top five, you're expected to play immediately and unfortunately I don't think he's a starting quarterback this year. The two guys I would put some faith in to be a starting quarterback this year are Jayden Daniels and Michael Penix Jr," Leaf added.

Leaf is correct when he stated that teams frequently start quarterbacks that are drafted high, more so in the top-five. Carolina Panthers quarterback Bryce Young (2023 No.1 pick) is the latest example of a highly-drafted quarterback that didn't thrive in his first year in the NFL as expected. Granted, the Panthers didn't surround Young with adequate talent, especially at receiver. Young's top target in 2023 was 33-year old Adam Thielen who led the team with 1,014 reception yards and four touchdowns. The former Alabama quarterback's pass protection was suspect, as he was sacked 62 times which was the second most in the NFL. If Chicago drafts Williams, they need to make sure he has solid talent around him in order to maximize his ablities as a franchise altering quarterback.

As far as LSU's Jayden Daniels and Washington's Michael Penix Jr, they both are top commodities in this years draft. Daniels and Penix Jr both operate more so in the pocket and are more "structured" so to speak than Williams. According to's draft proifle, the 2023 heisman winner earned a grade of 6.73, which means he's a likely first-year starter.

As for Penix, he's projected to be an eventual, but average starter in the league according to's draft profile. Daniels shows supreme command of the offense and passes with anticipation. The LSU quarterback can also use his legs to garner extra yardage if need be. Penix's grade is likely due to his injury history, as he suffered a torn ACL while at Indiana.

Leaf's comments on the Dan Patrick Show likely won't sway the Bears from taking Caleb Williams with the first pick in the draft. Williams' stock as a prospect is too high for Chicago to ignore, as a bevy of analysts across the NFL tout Williams as a generational player.

The former 1998 first-round draft pick played for four seasons in the NFL with the San Diego Chargers, Dallas Cowboys, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Seattle Seahawks. Leaf didn't live up to his No. 2 overall draft status after being a finalist for the heisman trophy while at Washington State during his junior year. Leaf completed 48.4 percent of his passes and had more interceptions than touchdowns (14-36) in the NFL.

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