LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 18: Caleb Williams #13 of the USC Trojans walks off the field after losing  against the UCLA Bruins at United Airlines Field at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on November 18, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 18: Caleb Williams #13 of the USC Trojans walks off the field after losing against the UCLA Bruins at United Airlines Field at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on November 18, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

Caleb Williams Goes Out Without a Bang

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LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – NOVEMBER 18: Carl Jones Jr. #4 , Kain Medrano #20 and Laiatu Latu #15 of the UCLA Bruins sack Caleb Williams #13 of the USC Trojans during the second half of a game at United Airlines Field at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on November 18, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

USC quarterback (QB) Caleb Williams and the Trojans lost to the Bruins 38-20 in a game without much fanfare.

It could be the last time Williams plays for USC depending if he declares for the 2024 NFL Draft.

Granted, he made a couple of nice off-platform throws, one nice deep pass, and three intermediate passes that were on-point. However, outside of that, his performance was nothing special.

Williams ended up losing five of his last six games, which is not what it means to ‘go out on a high note.’ While his supporters are quick to point out that it’s because of the defensive deficiencies and poor play by the offensive line. However, when it comes to looking ahead to the draft, isn’t that the case with teams selecting in the top 10?

I certainly don’t have him graded that high, but that’s where many believe he will be selected if he declares.

On the day, Williams threw 31 completions on 42 attempts (73.8%) for 384 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

That sounds more impressive than it looked.

WATCH CALEB WILLIAMS VS. UCLA BY CLICKING HERE

The Bruins pressured him all game long and his only responses were to either fold under the weight of four sacks or to throw a flurry of short passes, which brings us to the next very important point.

Glorified system QB

I’ve been hammering on this during the season and releasing my independent study after his games, and now the season has concluded versus UCLA, so too has the study.

The results are eye-opening.

Williams had his best game completion percentage this season when USC head coach Lincoln Riley kept him on a short leash throwing between 44-62% short passes. In the games he only threw between 28-32% short passes, his completion percentage plummeted.

What does this tell us?

Williams is a glorified system QB. He depends on a lot of short passes to pad his stats and he has average ball placement at the intermediate to deep route levels. Thats not elite.

-San Jose State (60% of Williams passes were short-range with a 72% completion percentage).

-Nevada (61% of Williams passes were short-range with a 75% completion percentage).

-Stanford (62% of Williams passes were short-range with a 90.5% completion percentage.)

-ASU (32% of Williams passes were short-range with a 64.5% completion percentage).

-Colorado (60% of Williams passes were short-range with a 75% completion percentage).

-Arizona (28% of Williams passes were short-range with a 56% completion percentage).

-Notre Dame (35% of Williams passes were short-range 62.2% completion percentage)

-Utah (44% of Williams passes were short-range with a 70.6% completion percentage)

CAL (30% of Williams passes were short-range with 57.5% completion percentage)

-Washington (60% of Williams passes were short-range with 77.1% completion percentage)

-Oregon (35% of Williams passes were short range with a 55.9% completion percentage)

-UCLA (52% of Williams passes were short range with a 73.8% completion percentage)

Glaring tendencies continue

This game concludes me studying Williams in every snap he’s taken in 2022 and 2023. I can now say he has cold hard tendencies to hold the ball too long in the pocket and lock in with receivers.

In other words, his release time and ability to go through his progressions are inconsistent.

That trend continued against UCLA as Williams locked in with intermediate to deep targets five times. He held the ball too long in the pocket four times that I charted.

Generational talent?

Against UCLA, Williams failed to show consistent ‘generational talent’ traits. If anything, he looked reluctant to even be on the field in a ‘meaningless game. His body language looked down throughout the game and I didn’t sense much energy from him.

I’m sorry but running around and playing ‘playground football’ a few times with mixed results doesn’t qualify as the next best thing since sliced bread.

On the bright side, he did a decent job of ball security, with one interception and no PBUs (pass breakups) in this game.

However, after the loss, it was reported Williams refused to talk to reporters, which is nothing but another red flag to add to the stack.

Daniel Kelly is a former NFL Scout with the New York Jets. He was hired on the regime which featured Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick, Scott Pioli, Mike Tannenbaum, and Dick Haley. He is currently the Editor-in-Chief for First Round Mock, contributes at Yardbarker, and has written for Sports Illustrated Lions, Jets, and 49ers, as well as a featured guest on ESPN Radio and Fox Sports Radio. For more information about him visit his website at whateverittakesbook.com. He can be followed on Twitter @firstroundmock.

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