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Caleb Williams explains decision not to undergo medical tests, throwing drills at NFL Combine

Caleb Williams explains decision not to undergo medical tests, throwing drills at NFL Combine
Caleb Williams explains decision not to undergo medical tests, throwing drills at NFL Combine 02:23

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (CBS) – As the Chicago Bears get closer to a decision on what to do at quarterback, the top prospect in the NFL Draft spoke to the media for the first time at the combine.

USC star Caleb Williams described himself as a fierce competitor. He's believed to be the first player to attend the NFL Combine but not go through the medical testing and measurements. He'll save those for in-person team visits. He also won't go through drills or throwing.

"I didn't feel the need to go out and throw," Williams said. "I played around 30-something games, I believe. Go ahead and go watch real-live ball of me, and see how I am as a competitor."

As for concerns about his height, he compared his height and weight to NFL star Aaron Rodgers. USC's official roster listed Williams at 6-foot-1 and 215 pounds.

Williams said it was important to him to shoot down rumors he didn't want to come to Chicago, before even coming to the combine. He said he wasn't worried about the franchise's history at the quarterback position.

"No, not at all. I don't compare myself to the other guys that's there or been there," he said. "I think I'm my own player. I tend to like to create history and re-write history."

NFL Combine Football
Southern California quarterback Caleb Williams speaks during a press conference at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Friday, March 1, 2024. Michael Conroy / AP

Williams has received some criticism for his play last year at USC as both the team's record and his own statistics fell off after his Heisman Trophy-winning 2022 season.

"It was tough for me," Williams said. "Like I said, I'm a competitor. I like to win, and so being that close to losing was difficult for me."

As for the lessons he learned, Williams said his head coach at USC, Lincoln Riley, "sat me down after maybe our loss to Utah, I believe, and he sat me down, and he said, 'Either you grow from something like this or you keep feeling this feeling and you'll stay where you are."

While the focus was on Williams and the No. 1 selection, the Bears also hold the No. 9 overall pick. Washington wide receiver Rome Odunze, who said he was the top wide receiver because of his skills and underrated speed, could be available at the ninth pick. Odunze gushed at the thought of being paired with Williams in Chicago.

"I got to see Caleb firsthand," Odunze said. "I got to see his talents and abilities, so year definitely. I know that he has an incredible talent and I know that he's a student of the game, someone who brings a lot of passion and a lot of desire to the game. So of course to be paired up with him, it would be something special."

Williams said the Bears were "awesome" in his meeting with them on Thursday, but he added it's difficult to learn too much in the 20-minute sessions. He did disclose the one thing he wants from any team that drafts him.

QB prospects Caleb Williams, J.J. McCarthy talk at NFL Combine 01:32

"I want to go to a place that wants to win," he said. "A whole 360 [degrees] from the top ... down to the janitors, the people that make everything run."

He also said he wasn't even considering the possibility he won't be the No. 1 overall pick.

"It's not a thought in my mind," Williams said. "I don't think I'm not going to be number one. I've put in all the hard work. I don't think of a plan B."

Nazareth alum J.J. McCarthy on meeting with Bears

University of Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy, a Nazareth Academy alum, also had a formal meeting with the Bears, and while the team is not expected to draft him, he said he'd love to play at Soldier Field.

"It's been one of my dreams," he said. "Whether I'm playing for the Bears or against them, but Soldier Field, one of the oldest stadiums in America. And just growing up, going to all the games and being part of a halftime thing where I was Player of the Week in Illinois, is something that would be truly a dream come true."

McCarthy said back in high school in La Grange Park, he was already thinking about a possible future in the NFL. In fact, he called it a stepping stone in a journey he's been working toward since he was 7 years old.

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