Caleb Williams’ Connection to Lincon Riley Is High Risk for Chicago Bears

Late on, Caleb Williams drew media attention for his pink phone and nails. That alone is not necessarily a cause for NFL odds concern. But what is worrisome is that USC head coach Lincoln Riley does not have a promising record of developing NFL-ready QBs. Since becoming a college football head coach in 2017 at Oklahoma, Lincoln Riley developed three QBs into Heisman Trophy winners. At OU, Baker Mayfield won the Heisman in 2017, and Kyler Murray won it in 2018. When Riley became USC coach, Williams hoisted the Heisman in 2022.

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The Ambiguous Lincoln Riley Connection and Record to Caleb Williams

Yet another Riley QB, Jalen Hurts, who transferred to Oklahoma from Alabama, made it to the final table at the famed Downtown Athletic Club in 2019. However, LSU QB Joe Burrow was ultimately named the sports betting Heisman winner.

Despite the strong track record of Riley QBs, only Hurts has had sustained NFL betting odds success. Ironically, Hurts played only one season for Riley. Meanwhile, Mayfield and Murray have not lived up to billing in the NFL. And there are substantive reasons beyond pink why Williams has his share of doubters. However, he carries that status as the first pick of the 2024 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears.

Except for Hurts, Riley’s QBs have arrived at the NFL entitled, indulged, and lacking professionalism. Previously, before Lincoln Riley became the Oklahoma head coach, he was the offensive coordinator and QB coach for the Sooners. Baker Mayfield benefited from Riley’s mentoring. And when Riley took over as HC, Mayfield broke out for a Heisman Trophy campaign in 2017. Hence, Oklahoma finished 12-2 and made the College Football Playoff.

Following that epic campaign, Mayfield was the hottest prospect for the 2018 NFL Draft. He went first overall by the Cleveland Browns. But from the time Mayfield arrived at Cleveland, his career rapidly devolved into a disappointment. Mayfield was wildly inconsistent at Cleveland, with good years in 2018 and 2020 but poor performances in 2019 and 2021. In 2020, he led the Browns to the playoffs and Mayfield appeared to be future.

But with Mayfield’s success came national endorsements, fan and media hype, and expectations through the roof. It all went to Mayfield’s head. Correlate that he was noticeably distracted and quickly became discredited. Mayfield never had a polished demeanor since his days at Oklahoma, where he had a rambunctious personality. Mayfield is known for popping off and blowing up in outbursts. However, Riley never guided Mayfield into maturity and professionalism. Cleveland finally gave up on Mayfield after a disastrous 2021 campaign.

Caleb Williams’s apologists claim he had a poor supporting cast at USC in 2023. In that theory, they are stepping into it. Consider that Justin Fields just wasted three valuable years of his career as QB of the Bears. He was Chicago’s first-round draft pick (11th overall) in 2021. Fields never had a respectable supporting cast and was thrown to the wolves. Despite some flashes of promise and a decent Chicago finish in 2023, the Bears sent Fields to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Now, Williams is likely to take over that same weak team that Fields could not ignite. OF major concern is that if Williams could not succeed without solid support at USC, why would he win in the much tougher NFL without a complete team surrounding him? It makes no sense.

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