Caleb Williams

How Caleb Williams impressed Bears chairman George McCaskey in brief combine interview

Caleb Williams impressed George McCaskey in a simple way at the combine

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ORLANDO -- A number of NFL owners would be front and center if their team had the No. 1 overall pick, wanting to play at least some role in the franchise-shaping decision that looms.

Bears chairman George McCaskey isn't one of those owners. If you ask him to describe his role in the quarterback decision that awaits general manager Ryan Poles and head coach Matt Eberflus, he would simply respond by saying, "None."

But McCaskey often sits in on combine interviews with top prospects. He doesn't say anything. He just observes. So he got an introduction to presumptive No. 1 overall pick Caleb Williams when the USC star met the Bears' decision-makers in Indianapolis for 10 to 15 minutes in late February.

It was just a brief meet-and-greet, but a relevant one as the Bears plan to build the future of their franchise around Williams.

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

When asked if he asked any questions during the Bears' interviews with the quarterback prospects, McCaskey immediately dismissed the notion.

"Absolutely not."

In trading quarterback Justin Fields to the Pittsburgh Steelers for a conditional 2025 sixth-round pick, Poles cleared the way for Williams to land in Chicago.

Poles, Eberflus, and the Bears' offensive staff flew to Los Angeles to spend a few days with Williams. They took him and his draft-eligible teammates to dinner and spent a day putting Williams through an offensive install before attending USC's pro day.

Williams has impressed Poles and Eberflus with his maturity, leadership, and strong connection to his teammates and staff.

The Bears will host Williams on a top-30 visit at Halas Hall in early April. It's at that time that they will get the USC star's medical information. The Bears' scouts rigorously track every injury a prospect has during his collegiate career. Williams only suffered one hamstring strain and played through it. The Bears are not expecting any surprises upon receiving that information.

The Bears will use that time to continue to test Williams on offensive installation. They want to see how he absorbs calls in the headset, digests the information, recalls it, and delivers it in the huddle.

McCaskey will only play a role in the 30 visit if Poles and Eberflus ask him. Otherwise, he plans to stay out of the way.

“That’s up to Ryan and Matt; whatever format they set up," McCaskey said about his role in the 30 visit. "Happy to adjust to whatever schedule they provide.”

McCaskey is obviously open to speaking to the presumptive No. 1 pick if that's part of Poles' plan.

“If they want me to, I would love to," McCaskey said.

If not, McCaskey will watch from afar. He has been intentional about being completely hands-off with football operations since hiring Kevin Warren as president and allowing him to oversee Poles.

But McCaskey has been impressed with the synergy among the Bears' decision-makers, led by Poles who has put the Bears in position to ascend if they get the pick at No. 1 right.

"Remarkable. Calm," McCaskey said of Poles. "Maybe he's churning up inside, but he exudes calm, and I think that's very helpful for his staff, especially, but for the entire building, to see the leader of our football operation taking thoughtful, measured steps to make us better."

Those measured steps will certainly lead the Bears to Williams on April 25. Then, a new era of Bears football, one with an exceedingly bright future, will begin.

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