Caleb Williams

One thing Caleb Williams did that caught Ryan Poles' eye early in the process: report

Williams' respect for those before him stood out to the Bears GM

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One of Bears GM Ryan Poles' first looks at his now quarterback Caleb Williams was at Notre Dame when the USC signal caller and his team were routed, 48-20, in South Bend, Ind.

It wasn't a great look for Williams. He threw three interceptions in the first half, finishing the game with 199 passing yards and just one touchdown. The game was fuel for skeptics of Williams who weren't sold on his "generational talent" moniker.

But Williams did something during the game that caught Poles' eye. Williams found a moment to greet legendary quarterback Joe Montana, who was present on the sidelines watching his alma mater play.

“They went to do some special teams things, he took his helmet off, ran over and shook his hand,” Poles said to Albert Breer on Thursday. “For a young kid to go up to a quarterback like that, Hall of Famer, and not as an, I’m in the same circle as you, but I look up to you, and, yet, there wasn’t this college fear of talking to an adult. He did it with confidence and swagger, but a ton of respect and humility at the same time—I couldn’t get that out of my mind."

Some Bears fans are skeptical of Williams' attitude and behavior. He's one of the most profitable NIL (Name, Image and Likeness) athletes in history. And he has the confidence and bravado to say for sure he's the best quarterback in his class. He's already talked about chasing Tom Brady's legendary career, also.

But just because Williams is comfortable in his skin, doesn't mean he's disrespectful. Even at the NFL Scouting Combine --- where he didn't throw or compete --- he shook hands with the event members who set up everything for the players. The Bears reported an amicable conversation with him from their meeting in Indianapolis, too.

That respect and politeness caught Poles' eye from the get-go. And it amplified once they got into evaluating and speaking with him at the combine, his pro day and his top-30 visit.

Back to the game at Notre Dame, Poles didn't miss the opportunity to see Williams at his lowest. During one of the worst games of his collegiate career, Poles took the chance to watch him intently on the sidelines.

“You saw a lot of encouragement with teammates, even after the interceptions,” Poles said. “You saw frustration, too, because it matters to him. But you never saw it become disruptive. You never saw teammates run away from him, or him run away and be by himself, away from his teammates. You saw him talking with the coaches trying to find solutions.”

That there is what Poles wanted to see. Sure, Poles didn't watch Williams throw for six touchdowns and 500 yards. But he got a glimpse into a key factor of Williams' game --- how he handles adversity. That, to Poles, is the most important part of the scouting process.

“When you watch quarterbacks, you’re looking at body language more than even the game,” Poles said. “You can get the game by watching the tape. It’s really pregame, how they carry themselves. During the game, if something good happens, how do they react? If it was a bad play, an interception, what does it look like on the sideline in terms of interaction with coaches and other players?”

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