- Hoge has been one of the best talent evaluators in the industry for many years.
- Williams won the 2022 Heisman Trophy, but struggled at times last season
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Former ESPN analyst and longtime Pittsburgh Steelers running back Merril Hoge gave a brutal assessment on projected No. 1 overall pick Caleb Williams.
During his career as an analyst, Hoge has been spot on as a talent evaluator, and some of his most famous evaluations have involved calling the former South Carolina Gamecock and current Baltimore Ravens edge rusher. Jadeveon Clowny, an ‘average soccer player’ in addition to predicting that the former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel would be “a bust.”
Hoge added another brutal assessment to his repertoire when he spoke with NBC Sports Chicago during Super Bowl week.
He said Williams wasn’t as special as many had hyped him up to be, but admitted he’s only halfway through his evaluation of the 2022 Heisman Trophy winner.
“The only thing that’s clear is that he’s not special,” Hoge said. ‘He is not something unique like Patrick Mahomes.
Merril Hoge gave a brutal evaluation of projected No. 1 overall pick Caleb Williams
Williams has been touted by some as a generational prospect, but he struggled at times last year.
He has also been compared to Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes, but Hoge said the two are not close.
And I hope the Bears don’t think, “Well, let’s try to make up for our mistake when we passed on Patrick Mahomes and go get Patrick Mahomes.” The child is not Patrick Mahomes. He’s not even remotely close to that.
Some have praised Williams for his ability to make unscheduled plays on the run and delicious off-the-shelf throws like Mahomes.
However, others have pointed to his poor season with USC this season after several talented players left the team last season and losses in high-pressure situations like those to Notre Dame, Utah and Washington are cracks in the once impenetrable Williams armor.
Many have spent weeks debating whether or not the Chicago Bears should trade Justin Fields and select Williams with the first overall pick or trade the pick to another team for a massive haul so they can continue to build around Fields.
Those debates will not only continue but will certainly intensify as the draft approaches.
“First of all, his ability to throw while running is very concerning,” Hoge said. ‘It’s very vague and everywhere. There are a lot of RPOs, no one is going to RPO for a Super Bowl in our league…
Hoge famously made surprisingly accurate evaluations of Clowney and Manziel as prospects.
Hoge believes the Bears should keep quarterback Justin Fields and continue to build around him
‘You have to push the ball down the field. There are times when he does that. He doesn’t play very early because of all the clean pockets that exist for him.
‘What worries me now is his inability to be consistent in his movements as a pitcher. And he is willing to do it much more than necessary. You don’t have that option in our league. …I don’t see anything magical in his arm.
“There’s not enough right now to think that we’re going to get rid of Justin Fields and bring in this guy, who has never played in the National Football League and has to overcome all those obstacles just to give us a chance to win.” gain.’
“I think you have enough with Justin Fields to have hope and continue to build with him,” Hoge added.