Caleb Williams

How the Bears started onboarding Caleb Williams before the draft: Report

The Bears used a few Zoom calls to get Williams acclimated to the offense before the draft

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It was no secret before the 2024 NFL Draft that the Bears would submit their card for the No. 1 pick with Caleb Williams' name written on it.

The Bears did extensive digging and research on the USC quarterback. They met with him at the NFL Scouting Combine, again ahead of his USC pro day at dinner, at his pro day and during his only top-30 visit with the Bears in April.

But they were able to start training him for his next position ahead of the NFL Draft, Albert Breer reported on Monday.

"It also gave the Bears the opportunity to start subtly onboarding Williams," Breer wrote about the Bears' early comfortability with Williams. "As such, the team used the three one-hour Zooms it was allowed to do with the quarterback before the draft to get him ready to run the offense, rather than deploying them as a tool to assess him, like you would with other prospects.

"During the first one, the Bears taught Williams the terminology, giving him a foundation on what to call formations and motions within new OC Shane Waldron’s scheme. During the second, they started installing their base, normal-down plays. During the third, they put in red zone and third-down plays."

Williams has a lot to learn about running an NFL offense. Remember, unlike Poles' time in Kansas City with Patrick Mahomes, when he had Alex Smith to guide him and lean on before taking over, the Bears are starting Williams right out of the gates. He has Brett Rypien to lean on, but Williams will own the starting role from Week 1.

It's not an uncommon decision. Breer pointed out that only two of the last 48 quarterbacks drafted in the first round of their respective drafts (Jordan Love and Jake Locker) have failed to start a game during their rookie season. The norm around the league these days is letting rookie quarterbacks take over upon arrival.

But still, that doesn't diminish the insurmountable challenge learning an NFL offense provides. Recently, former quarterback Dan Orlovsky detailed that process by explaining how on-field offensive personnel changes drastically between college and NFL.

It's a noteworthy watch, considering this is exactly what Williams is learning this offseason.

Those Zoom calls saved the Bears a lot of time, not needing to teach him the basics once he arrived in Chicago. That way, when it came to rookie minicamp and early offseason activities, Williams was prepared.

“We wanted to have our install set for the OTAs, and for rookie minicamp, and we wanted to make sure he had those down during those three Zoom meetings,” coach Matt Eberflus told Breer. “So when he came into rookie minicamp [on May 9], he was very familiar with those installs. We were very fortunate to do that, and Shane and the offensive staff have done a wonderful job of really making it friendly and learnable for Caleb.”

And in that process, of the Bears throwing their playbook at Williams even before they called his name at the draft, the Bears became even more impressed with their next quarterback.

“Just in terms of him the person, it’s been outstanding,” Eberflus said to Breer. “I’m talking about a worker—this guy is a worker. He wants to learn, he wants to know everything about the offense, he’s a really good learner, asks great questions, has been great in the quarterback room. I’ve been in there pretty much every time with those guys, and that’s been great, to see that relationship grow with him and Tyson [Bagent], and [QB coach] Kerry [Joseph] and Shane, the guys that are in there. And there’s not a lot of people in there, because we keep it tight, and that’s been wonderful."

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