Caleb Williams

Caleb Williams' successful 30 visit checks final box ahead of likely Bears draft union

All that's left is for Roger Goodell to call Williams' name

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Caleb Williams and the Bears cleared the final "hurdle" ahead of their expected NFL draft union Wednesday when the USC quarterback took his top-30 visit to Halas Hall, a source confirmed to NBC Sports Chicago, and continued to build his connection with the Bears' staff.

The 2022 Heisman Trophy winner arrived Tuesday and went out to dinner with members of the organization and some veteran Bears players, including wide receiver DJ Moore.

Williams' visit was a success. The likely future face of the franchise continued to make a positive impression on everyone in the building, from key decision-makers to coaches and other members of the organization.

During last week's annual NFL league meetings in Orlando, Bears general manager Ryan Poles outlined what he wanted to continue to see from Williams when the presumptive No. 1 overall pick arrived at Halas Hall.

"I would say just continue to work on the mental side of the game," Poles told NBC Sports Chicago in Orlando. "Kind of the things that he hasn't experienced at Oklahoma or USC. So the verbiage, how to call plays in terms of bringing it into the headset and then spitting that out with confidence. Continue just to listen to his leadership skills. Continue to make sure he's prioritizing things the right way. Then, it's just compatibility, making sure everyone gets along with each other and that it's a fit. Just more exposure to get a feel for him in general."

The Bears set out with a list of boxes to check to feel comfortable drafting Williams with the No. 1 pick. His visit should be the final check mark needed to write his name in Sharpie atop the 2024 draft.

NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reported Wednesday that Williams is unlikely to visit another team.

That jives with all the breadcrumbs laid since the Bears and Williams first met at the 2024 NFL Scouting Combine.

“It’s not a thought in my mind that I think I’m not going to be No. 1," Williams said at the combine about being the top pick. "I’ve put in all the hard work, the time, effort, energy into being that. I don’t think of a Plan B. That’s kind of how I do things in my life. Stay on Plan A and then when things don’t work out, find a way to make Plan A work.”

At that point in time, the Bears had yet to trade quarterback Justin Fields, so there was still a perceived possibility that Poles would trade the No. 1 pick and stick with Fields.

Williams and the Bears first met for 15 minutes at the combine. Williams was all business during the meeting, electing to spend as much time as possible on the board to show off his football knowledge and recall.

Bears chairman George McCaskey was among those in the room for the combine meeting. While McCaskey just observed the meeting, he was impressed with his potential future signal-caller.

"The thing that impressed me is, I think it was at 10:40 at night, and he was remarkably gregarious, engaged, and friendly. When they got down to football, he was right in it," McCaskey said at the annual league meetings.

The Bears traded Fields a few weeks later before jetting out to Los Angeles to spend two days with Williams ahead of USC's pro day.

They took Williams and some of his draft-eligible teammates to dinner and then spent more time on the board with him the next day.

Poles said early in the process that "getting the person" right would be the hardest part of the quarterback evaluation if the Bears moved on from Fields.

But Williams has seemingly made it easy.

"When you talk to his teammates, they don't like him, they love him," Poles said at the annual league meeting. "His leadership, how he brings people together. He's intentional with his leadership. Same goes with the staff. I'm having a hard time finding a person that doesn't like him or even love him and thinks that he can reach the highest limits."

After throwing at his pro day with new Bears receiver Keenan Allen in attendance, NFL Media's Steve Wyche asked Williams if it was his "expectation" to be the Bears' pick at No. 1.

"I wouldn't say it's my full expectation," Williams said. "Obviously, things can happen. Things can change. I think it's around 33 days or so, 30 days, until April 25. A lot can change. You take it day by day. Handle and control what you can control."

The 22-year-old did his best not to give away the obvious, but he might have given away the game when asked about Allen showing up.

"That was great," Williams told Wyche about Allen. "I’ve known Keenan for a little bit now, hung out. He was at the Chargers. Now he’s at the Bears, he’s here for a fourth round pick, which is crazy. He’s a beast, a good guy, and he can give you a lot of knowledge."

In Orlando, the NFL already viewed Williams and the Bears as a package deal despite the draft being a month away.

"[The NFL wants] the suspense, but I think this one's, it's like when the Colts took Andrew Luck. Everybody knew that," Buffalo Bills general manager Brandon Beane said on "The Pat McAfee Show" about the Bears and Caleb Williams.

"The draft starts at No. 2. No one knows what Washington is going to do," a league executive told NBC Sports Chicago this week. "The Bears could probably start selling Williams jerseys if the league would let them."

The Bears will continue their 30-visit schedule Thursday when Washington wide receiver Rome Odunze will be at Halas Hall.

With Williams a near-mortal lock to be the top selection, the Bears can start to hone in on what they want to do with their second first-round pick at No. 9.

Barring an unforeseen snag, the decision at No. 1 has been made. It's Williams, and it has been all along.

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