Caleb Williams vs. Justin Fields: Answering the Only Question That Matters

The Chicago Bears have a tough choice to make with the first overall pick during this year's NFL draft. But while there are many arguments surrounding the decision to keep Justin Fields or draft a rookie quarterback, one matters more than the rest.
Dec 31, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA;  Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields (1) runs with the
Dec 31, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields (1) runs with the / Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

It comes down to this: do you believe Caleb Williams (or Drake Maye or Jayden Daniels or whoever) is better than Justin Fields, or at least will be better? And soon enough to help a rebuilding team make the leap from 7-10 to the playoffs?

I acknowledge that there's another major argument being discussed -- whether to draft a QB or trade the pick for a haul. I am in favor of the latter but I also understand the Bears could pick a QB and still fill other holes on the roster via the rest of the draft and free agency, or via the potential return from Fields trade.

More importantly, if the Bears decide to keep Fields and trade the pick, they would obviously only do so if they felt Fields should remain the starter for the next few years. So before the Bears go that route, they'd have to determine if Fields is better than Williams.

So it all comes down to that. If they feel Williams is better, they should take him and trade Fields. If Fields is better, then keep him.

It sounds easy but it's not. Fields and Williams have some of the same flaws to their games -- holding the ball too long, fumbling. They also both are excellent at running and scrambling, and Fields has appeared to improve his ability to throw from the pocket as time has gone on.

Furthermore, it has been hard to get a read on Fields' development due to injury, poor coaching, and the fact that he was playing with a subpar roster for his first two seasons.

Meanwhile, there's the always present risk that a rookie QB could bust. Williams may look like the best rookie QB to come along in 5-10 years, but the NFL is vastly different from college and many QBs who appeared to be "can't miss" missed. Others struggled with their first team before becoming steady veterans (this is a possible route for Fields if the Bears move on as much as it is for Williams).

I am not saying Williams will or will not be successful in his first three years -- if I knew that, I'd be working in scouting -- just merely pointing out that the Bears will not really, truly know how good Williams could be if they draft him. Just like they have to determine that Fields is ready to take a leap to the next level should they decide to keep him.

A quick aside on that note: I get annoyed with those who say "if the Bears don't know about Fields by now, that means he's not the guy." These folks forget that he played on a tanking team in 2022, was thrust into a tough spot in 2021, and has at times lacked weapons around him.

He also missed four games to injury this season and was let down at times by questionable play calling. They forget that rookie QBs often need two to three seasons to develop. That last bit needs to be kept in mind regarding Williams, too.

There are a lot of moving parts to this decision, as I laid out earlier, but if the Bears determine that one player is clearly better than the other, the rest will all fall into place.

And if they're both equally good? Keep Justin, draft a rookie, let the rookie sit, and have the new kid take over in his third year. It worked for -- ugh -- the Green Bay Packers.

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