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Caleb Williams sets goal of 'immortality' with Bears: 'Only way to reach that is winning championships'

At long last, the Bears turned the expected into reality on Thursday night by drafting quarterback Caleb Williams with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.

The selection was a historic pick -- Chicago's first at the very top of a draft since 1947 -- and it's one both the club and Williams hope is the impetus to rewriting the recent history for a Bears franchise that's been too often peering up at the rest of the NFL world.

"The history since I've been alive hasn't been necessarily where they are winning big games and Super Bowls and things like that," Williams admitted in his post-draft news conference, per NBC Sports Chicago.

Born in 2001, Williams was five years old the last time Chicago played (and lost) in a Super Bowl. The Bears have reached the playoffs six times, with five NFC North crowns and 16 seasons at .500 or worse during Williams' 22 years. Even beyond that, the franchise has never had a 4,000-yard passer or QB throw for 30 touchdowns in a single season.

A generational prospect, the 2022 Heisman Trophy winner has the moxie and the skills in his repertoire to change that. Between one season starting at Oklahoma and the last two years spent with USC, Williams threw for 10,082 yards, 93 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in his collegiate career. He added another 966 yards and 27 scores on the ground.

He can make all the throws -- sometimes to his detriment as he waits too long for a heroic hurl rather than a simpler one -- and has the mobility to make a defense pay should it crash in and leave a lane of escape or turn backs to the line of scrimmage in coverage.

He's forever a member of the Heisman club, but he never won a championship with USC in the Pac-12 or nationally. His goal in joining Chicago is to change such a narrative, knowing doing so with regularity long-term could eventually place him among the signal-calling greats.

"To be the greatest or to be able to sit at the table," Williams said regarding what he foresees in his future in Chicago. "You put dreams and goals in front of you that you aren't able to reach within a year or two, and you try to go get 'em. You have to consistently not get tired with consistency. Being able to be the same guy, being able to go in there and lead the guys and hold them accountable, and they hold me accountable to go get it. Having those team goals. The only way you can reach them.

"My last goal is immortality. The only way to reach that is winning championships. That's big for me and something that is the reason I play the game. I'm excited."

It's a lofty aim, and one recent first-round draft quarterbacks Mitchell Trubisky and Justin Fields surely never accomplished with Chicago.

The Bears' struggle to draft and develop a franchise QB caused some early in the process to wonder if Williams, presumed for months to be the No. 1 pick, would warm to playing in the Windy City.

He said he was game throughout the process, though, and on Thursday night went into specifics about how the Bears brass won him over.

"What they told me was that, you know, they haven't always put people in the right position, and that's their fault," he said. "The plan is to change that around. As y'all have seen, the new stadium. As y'all have seen, the coaches that they have brought here, the executive staffs. Things like that. Bringing people like that from winning cultures and winning places that want to win, and as a holistic family of the Bears but also stadium, team, coaches, executive staff. Everybody wanting to win and change the culture."

By admitting previous shortcomings, the Bears have been able to take corrective action. Things will always look brightest in April, but it's nevertheless undeniable Chicago is putting its newest QB in a spot to shine.

Although the Bears only have two picks remaining in the 2024 draft, they've already secured yet another top pass catcher in No. 9 overall selection Rome Odunze, creating a monstrous wideout trio befitting the Monsters of the Midway. Odunze joins DJ Moore, acquired in a trade last offseason, and Keenan Allen, added in a deal in March, in a passing offense that suddenly looks primed to shatter the output from its 27th-ranked operation last season.

There's also tight end Cole Kmet, and the newly-signed running back D'Andre Swift to pair with Roschon Johnson and Khalil Herbert.

The pieces are already well in motion to let Williams reach his ceiling.

Years from now, we will know if that means reaching football immortality, too.

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