Caleb Williams

Keenan Allen going to Caleb Williams' pro day spoke volumes about Bears' present, future

A small gesture said a lot

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ORLANDO -- Ryan Poles and Matt Eberflus had spent the last two days in Los Angeles getting to know presumptive No. 1 overall pick Caleb Williams before the quarterback's pro day at USC.

The Bears' power brokers arrived at Allyson Felix Field and were surprised when newly-acquired wide receiver Keenan Allen arrived in head-to-toe Bears gear to watch his likely future quarterback work out.

Poles and Eberflus didn't ask Williams to come, nor did they expect the Los Angeles resident to show up early in the morning and stay for the entirety of the procession.

"I saw Keenan at the pro day and I turned around and I went and visited with him," Eberflus said Tuesday at the annual NFL league meetings in Orlando. "I said how you doing? and he said ‘I was trying to go incognito.’ I said you’re in Bears gear, and you’ve got your Keenan Allen beard sticking out. I said I don’t know if you’re pulling that off right now. It was great to see him, and it was great to visit with him a little bit more, too, and talk to him about the whole process, his process. It was really good to see him. I thought it was really cool that he showed up."

On March 14, the Bears acquired Allen from the Los Angeles Chargers for a 2024 fourth-round pick. Two days later, Allen arrived at Halas Hall and fielded questions about Williams, whom he had met before, and the Bears' quarterback situation.

"Hell of an athlete," Allen said of Williams. "Obviously, he can make tremendous plays with his feet, with his arm. Looks like he knows the game really well. Really good."

A few days later, Allen, who only has one year left on his contract, showed up at Williams' pro day to watch the 2022 Heisman Trophy winner put on a show.

Allen didn't have to do it, nor was it expected. But it speaks to the buzz, excitement, and momentum growing around a Bears franchise set to enter a new era with Williams expected to be at the helm.

"It’s exciting for him to be able to support that if we go in that direction," Eberflus said. "Obviously, he lives right there, so it was easy for him to make that trip. It was cool to see."

That a soon-to-be 32-year-old Allen not only welcomed a trade to Chicago -- a place famous for wasting talented offensive players -- but has already said he sees a long-term future with the Bears speaks to the massive change that Poles has overseen at Halas Hall. It speaks to the potential the Bears have to build something to last.

The roster Poles has assembled is the foundation for the growing buzz around the Bears. But it's the opportunity to draft Williams that makes the moment in front of Poles and the Bears a once-in-a-generation opportunity.

Allen clearly recognizes the importance of what's in front of the franchise he just joined. So does the rest of the NFL.

"Get it right, and you'll be remembered forever," a league executive told NBC Sports Chicago in February at Super Bowl LVIII. "This kid [Williams] is a career-definer. He can change everything for a lot of people. I'd turn the card in now if I could. I think everything there is about to change."

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