NFL analyst responds, “he is not special,” when asked about Caleb Williams
Caleb Williams is one of the most discussed draft prospects of all time. Everyone is being asked what they think of the USC quarterback.
As part of Super Bowl week, NBC Sports Chicago has been asking people from around the NFL what they think of Caleb Williams and the Bears QB situation. On Friday, Merril Hoge was interviewed about what he thinks about the Bears QB options.
Hoge is a former NFL fullback and current ESPN analyst. Hodge spent the last year of his NFL career as a player (1994) in Chicago.
When asked about Caleb Williams, Hoge did not hold back. He proceeds to tell NBC Sports Chicago that Williams isn’t special and that he isn’t the once-in-a-lifetime prospect that some have labeled him as.
“I’ve only watched Caleb Williams three games last year, and three games this year, so I’m only halfway done okay? The one thing that is clear, he is not special.
He is not something unique like a Patrick Mahomes and I hope the Bears don’t think, lets try to make up for our mistake on passing on Patrick Mahomes and go get the “Patrick Mahomes.” The kid is not Mahomes, ain’t even remotely close to that.” – Merril Hoge
Take Hoge’s comments on Williams as half-baked. Because as Hoge himself admits, he has not seen all of Caleb Williams’ college games. Hoge is a solid evaluator, but to provide such a harsh evaluation on a player you have only watched 6 games of is odd.
Then Hoge goes on to explain why he thinks the Bears should seriously consider stocking with Justin Fields.
“It is unfair to Justin Fields, he has had new coordinator, new coordinator, new coordinator. There is no possible way you can know about your guy when you do that. It’s the worst thing that can happen to any player, especially a quarterback.
When Justin came out, the one thing I thought he had, he had inexperience, he just needed more experience, he lacked that. But what I have seen in Justin Fields, from my evaluation, there is enough growth and hope there that I would not let him go, because I see enough there.” – Merril Hoge
Why there is some credibility to Hodge’s evaluation
It would be a disservice to immediately discredit Hodge’s take on Caleb Williams as, “hate,” or something of that nature. Hoge has been spot on with his evaluations before, more than once. Hoge was one of many people to accurately predict that Johnny Manziel was a bust before he played a snap in the NFL. More importantly, Hoge was one of the only people who accurately evaluated the 2023 rookie of the year, CJ Stroud.
In a 2023 clip from The Dan Patrick Show, Hoge says Stroud was the only QB in the 2023 draft class that he gave a first round grade to. He successfully predicted that Stroud would adjust well to the NFL. Below is a tweet with the full clip of Hoge discussing his evaluation of Stroud.
— RobnCypress (@robncypress) April 28, 2023
Hoge was also not sold on the bears first round quarterback pick in 2017, Mitch Trubisky. Hoge thought Trubisky wasn’t ready to play in the NFL and that if he started right away, bad things would happen. Hoge talked about Trubisky on ESPN in a clip from 2017 witch can be watched here.
The Bears had a lot of issues while Trubisky was the QB, but he just never became “the guy.” Trubisky’s best season was his sophomore year in which he threw 3,223 yards and 24 touchdowns. He also threw 12 interceptions that season and was sacked 24 times. After 2018, Trubisky continued to decline and has now become an NFL backup QB. Only to play if a starter gest injured.
Hoge was right about Trubisky and he also admitted that he didn’t watch all of Trubisky’s games before he was drafted. Hoge has a solid eye for NFL talent and has proven so recently with his accurate evaluation of CJ Stroud. He has also been wrong in his evaluations more than once.
Whether a quarterback evolves into a NFL starter has a lot of contributing factors. A raw or unfinished prospect could be molded into one of the leagues best in the right hands. Take Josh Allen as a good example of this. Aleen looked bad in his first few seasons in the NFL. He then got his accuracy issues mainly sorted out and he has been his teams best player since.
Merril Hoge is one of the more proven analysts ESPN employs as far as accurate evaluations go. Regardless of what he says, the decision to draft Caleb Williams or not comes down to Ryan Poles. Ryan Poles showed his strong drafting skills last year. If he can pull off another strong draft in 2024, the Bears may be back in business.
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