Bears have prime opportunity to pick a superstar receiver in draft for Caleb Williams

DETROIT – An appropriate amount of suspense hung over Caleb Williams on Wednesday as he joined a dozen other highly-rated draft prospects for a community-service event at the Corner Ballpark.

No, there’s no mystery when it comes to Williams’ big moment to christen the NFL draft on Thursday night. The dynamic USC quarterback will be the first draftee to walk across the stage and shake Commissioner Roger Goodell’s hand after the Chicago Bears select him with the No. 1 pick overall.

The suspense has to do with the Bears’ other pick in the first round, currently slotted ninth overall.

What would Williams do with the pick?

"I’d probably go Olu Fashanu because I know he’d put his life on the line for me, protecting me," Williams said of the Penn State tackle, with whom he is extremely familiar with.

Fashanu and Williams were teammates at Gonzaga College High School in Washington, D.C.

Hold that thought.

"And then one of the top three wide receivers," Williams added. "Whoever’s there at 9."

That would be Marvin Harrison, Jr., Malik Nabers or Rome Odunze.

Let the suspense roll on. It’s essential. No draft would complete without heavy doses of projections, second-guessing and connect-the-dots intrigue. And while there’s sentiment in many of the mock drafts for Bears GM Ryan Poles to select an edge rusher to bolster the defense with an impact player, let the record show that Williams wants that next pick to come in the form of another premium talent for what promises to be a new-and-improved Bears offense.

"I’d love that," said Odunze, the 6-3, 212-pound Washington product who is arguably the most physically imposing receiver in the draft. "I hope they don’t wait until No. 9 for that. They can come up and get me."

Washington Huskies wide receiver Rome Odunze celebrates with teammates after scoring a touchdown during the first half against the Oregon State Beavers at Reser Stadium.
Washington Huskies wide receiver Rome Odunze celebrates with teammates after scoring a touchdown during the first half against the Oregon State Beavers at Reser Stadium.

Such were the musings in the chilly air as the 13 prospects in town for the draft participated in an hour-long Play Football Prospect Clinic with Special Olympics Athletes on the grounds of the old Tiger Stadium, which is now a hallowed recreation facility connected to the Police Athletic League (PAL) headquarters.

Even Harrison, the Hall of Famer’s son who starred at Ohio State, was asked about the possibilities. Harrison is the most complete receiver in the draft. For the Bears to land him, they would likely have to pull off a shocking trade because the consensus is that Harrison is the best receiving prospect. Most draft experts project he will go off the board with the fourth pick, to the Arizona Cardinals.

Yet such expectations didn’t deter the Bears from bringing Harrison to Chicago for a “top-30” visit, which fuels the imagination.

"A great visit," Harrison said. "One of the best visits. The facility is amazing. We’ll see what happens."

Harrison knows it would take some maneuvering but wouldn’t completely rule out the suggestion.

"You want to play with a great quarterback," he said. "So, playing with Caleb would be great."

Nabers, meanwhile, seems poised to become another in a long line of LSU receivers to star in the NFL. And if that happens while teaming with Williams, it would, well, strengthen a bond.

During the NFL scouting combine, Nabers said, "I talk to Caleb all the time. He always talks about how I’m a great receiver."

Nabers also shared that he and Williams have connected by playing the video game Call of Duty.

For Odunze, the buzz has been fueled this week after Williams revealed on social media that they took the same flight to Detroit.

A post from Williams on X: “Oh (expletive) y’all I just saw Rome Odunze on my flight to Detroit!! Big fan.”

Odunze’s reply on X: “I’m actually the pilot this morning. Don’t worry I’ll get Caleb to Detroit SAFELY!”

The dude’s got jokes. That can’t hurt about now.

"It’s just some coincidences that we’re having fun with," Odunze said. "Nobody knows how it’s going to end up, but to be with Caleb again, that would be awesome."

The Bears have already bolstered the supporting cast, anticipating Williams’ arrival. They obtained Pro Bowl receiver Keenan Allen from the Los Angeles Chargers and added running back D’Andre Swift and tight end Gerald Everett in free agency. The idea of adding one top rookies to a receiving corps that already includes Allen and DJ Moore would create a three-headed monster of sorts.

"It would be explosive," Odunze said, envisioning himself in the mix.

Then again, the Bears could blow it up in a number of ways – even if that involves shoring up the quarterback’s blind side.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Bears can give Caleb Williams big help with star receiver in NFL draft