Comparing Caleb Williams To Former Elite College Quarterback Prospects

Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

Comparing Caleb Williams To Former Elite College Quarterback Prospects


Comparing Caleb Williams To Former Elite College Quarterback Prospects


Tanking for a star quarterback in the draft is a tale as old as the NFL itself. Going back to the likes of John Elway, teams have valued the quarterback position enough to purposely lose games for years now. Are they “throwing” games? Not necessarily, but these teams may make some questionable roster decisions that don’t have “winning games” at the forefront of their minds. 

This year’s QB culprit? USC Trojan star quarterback Caleb Williams. Originally an Oklahoma Sooner, WIlliams beat out the likes of Spencer Rattler during the 2021 season. Rattler was actually replaced by Williams mid-game, on October 9th, during one of the biggest rivalries in sports: Texas vs. Oklahoma. 

Safe to say that Williams impressed, leading the Sooners to a 55-48 victory. Williams and head coach Lincoln Riley played out the rest of the season with Oklahoma, before both of them went west to USC. Williams lit up the stat sheet, throwing for 4,537 passing yards, 42 passing touchdowns, and only five interceptions. This was good enough to win Williams the 2022 Heisman Trophy, over the likes of 2023 NFL first round QBs Bryce Young and CJ Stroud. 

Williams has been touted as already one of the greatest qb prospects to come out of college, consistently drawing comparisons to the likes of Patrick Mahomes. 

Projecting how good a quarterback can be in the NFL is tough to do. How does Williams stack up against some of the recent NFL Draftees? 

Disclaimer: These comparisons are about the prospects coming out of college. NFL success is not factored in at all. For comparisons, we will be going on a “per game” basis to avoid comparing total statistical numbers. 

Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

Caleb Williams vs. Baker Mayfield 

Career stats per game: 

Passing Yards: Caleb Williams 258 ypg vs. Baker Mayfield 304 ypg 

Completion Percentage: Williams 66.0% to Mayfield 68.5% 

Passing Touchdowns: Williams 2.5 to Mayfield 2.7 

Interceptions: Williams 0.36 to Mayfield 0.625 

QB Rating: Williams 168.9 to Mayfield 175.4

Two Oklahoma quarterbacks. A heisman trophy each. However, the narratives around these players are vastly different. Up until days before the draft, Mayfield was seen as the third best quarterback in his own class, behind the likes of Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen. Mayfield ended up being drafted number one overall to the Browns, the same draft spot that Williams is projected to go this coming year. 

The short game would lean in Mayfields favor, but that’s about where the list stops. Statistics tell a lot, but they don’t tell the entire story. Where Williams passes Mayfield on a prospect level is in arm strength, off platform throws, and playmaking ability. Mayfield was a truly great pocket passer in college, but Williams possesses that top-end ability to make something out of nothing. 

Sometimes, that big-play ability sacrifices some consistency, but that isn’t the case with Williams. His completion percentage, while not at the level of Mayfields, has hardly been an issue. Add to that, Mayfield also turned the ball over nearly twice as often as Williams. Both were drafted number one overall for a reason, but Williams fits that elite of the elite mold more than Mayfield did. 

Better Prospect: Williams 

Caleb Williams vs. Kyler Murray 

Career stats per game: 

Passing yards: WIlliams 258 vs. Murray 186 

Completion percentage: Williams 66.0% to Murray 67.4% 

Passing touchdowns: Williams 2.5 to Murray 1.7 

Interceptions: Williams 0.36 to Murray 0.48 

QB rating: Williams 168.9 to Murray 181.3 

Man, Lincoln Riley is good at this whole “college quarterback” thing. William’s career will likely end up looking much different than Murray’s did. Yes, both won Heisman Trophies under Riley, but if “one and done” was a college football term, Kyler would embody it. 

Murray transferred to Oklahoma to begin the 2017 season, backing up Baker Mayfield (yeah, he won the Heisman too). 2018 was the first full season Murray played, and it was enough to get him drafted number 1 overall the following year. 

Murray presented a bit more of a dynamic threat than Mayfield did because of his mobility. Despite being a more mobile quarterback, his accuracy didn’t dip. A comparison with WIlliams seems appropriate. We talk about the elite “mold” and coming out of college, Murray didn’t quite fit that, mainly due to size. His stature was a huge question, and while it isn’t everything, it’s a determining factor in comparisons like these. 

Williams screams “prototypical 2023 star qb”. He can take hits on the run or in the pocket and keep slinging away. While Murray may be the more dangerous runner, Williams has a few more tools in his passing tool belt. 

Better prospect: Williams 

Caleb Williams vs. Joe Burrow 

Career stats per game: 

Passing yards: Williams 258 vs. Burrow 233 

Completion percentage: Williams 66.0% vs. Burrow 68.8% 

Passing touchdowns: Williams 2.5 vs. Burrow 2.0 

Interceptions: Williams 0.36 vs. Burrow 0.29 

QB rating: Williams 168.9 vs. Burrow 172.4 

Back to back comparisons with “one and done” players? Sure, why not. 

Joe Burrow may have only had 1 great season in his college career, but he sure made it memorable. In what was arguably the greatest single season a college qb has ever had, Burrow won the Heisman Trophy on his way to a national title. On that road, he threw for a record high 60 touchdowns to only 6 interceptions. 

Before the 2019 season, quarterbacks like Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert were seen as better prospects. Needless to say, that changed after the season. Burrow wasn’t the freak athlete that Kyler was. He didn’t have the arm strength that Herbert had. He was just…really good at football.

Accuracy would lean Burrow’s way, while mobility would go to Williams. Off platform throws were more of Williams’ specialty, while the deep ball would go to Burrow. What about the intangible aspects? Well, both have made magical plays in their own respective college careers. 

So, what do you do when you have two equally well rounded prospects? I’ll lean with upside, as Caleb’s physical traits are the slightest edge in this comparison 

Better prospect: Williams 

Caleb Williams vs. Trevor Lawrence 

Career stats per game: 

Passing yards: Williams 258 vs. Lawrence 252 

Completion percentage: Williams 66.0% vs. Lawrence 66.6% 

Passing touchdowns: Williams 2.5 to Lawrence 2.25 

Interceptions: Williams 0.36 to Lawrence 0.425 

QB rating: Williams 168.9 to Lawrence 164.3 

“Generationally talented” has been a label for these two quarterbacks since high school. The similarities don’t stop there either. Both were the top QB recruits out of high school and both were Heisman Trophy candidates. I mean, look at those stats. They’re nearly identical. 

Both of their pro comps were elite qbs too. Williams is constantly compared to Mahomes, while Lawrence was compared to the likes of John Elway. A year out from their respective drafts, the question was “How many teams are gonna tank for this guy?” 

Both are strong armed, accurate, mobile quarterbacks. Are they perfect every game? No, but their great games far outweigh their subpar ones. Again, this is an incredibly close debate, but just because Lawrence had more seasons under his belt, I’ll give the edge to Trevor. 

Better prospect: Lawrence 

Caleb Williams vs. Justin Fields 

Career stats per game: 

Passing yards: Williams 258 vs. Fields 168

Completion percentage: Williams 66.0% vs. Fields 68.4% 

Passing touchdowns: Williams 2.5 vs. Fields 1.97 

Interceptions: Williams 0.36 vs. Fields 0.26 

QB rating: Williams 168.9 vs. Fields 178.8 

This one could seem the most out of place at first glance. Williams has a Heisman Trophy, while Fields never finished higher than third in voting. Williams has been highly touted, while Fields was always second fiddle at best, to Trevor Lawrence. 

Fields started career at Georgia before transferring to Ohio State before the 2019 season. in the next two seasons, Fields lit it up, throwing for 63 touchdowns and only 9 interceptions. He gained an invite to the Heisman presentation in the 2019 season, but lost to Joe Burrow. So…why is he here? 

When Fields was a starter, he was deadly. He was never used as a rusher as frequently as he is in the league today, but his mobility was still elite. Williams may have an edge in off platform throws, but Fields takes the edge in arm strength and accuracy. 

Am I saying that the player drafted 11th overall is a better prospect than the guy who is compared to Patrick Mahomes? Yes, yes I am. Fields was an elite passer with great touch, mobility, pocket presence, and a rocket for an arm. Williams is truly special as well, and this is another tight race, but Fields has just a little bit more of that “wow” factor. 

Better prospect: Fields 

Links to follow: 

Top Five Sleeper Teams For The 2023 College Football Season

Top Ten Transfer Portal Acquisitions Thus Far in College Football

The Top 10 Pac-12 Matchups For The 2023 College Football Season


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