Caleb Williams holds pro day workout in front of prominent Chicago Bears contingent

Southern California quarterback Caleb Williams throws during the NCAA college football team's NFL Pro Day, Wednesday, March 20, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ryan Sun)

Southern California quarterback Caleb Williams throws during the NCAA college football team’s NFL Pro Day, Wednesday, March 20, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ryan Sun)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The first person Southern California quarterback Caleb Williams greeted when he stepped onto the field for his pro day Wednesday was wide receiver Keenan Allen, newly acquired by the Chicago Bears.

Allen wasn’t the only Bears representative in attendance, with head coach Matt Eberflus and general manager Ryan Poles also looking on.

The Bears have the No. 1 overall pick in next month’s NFL draft and Williams gave them plenty of reasons he could be that selection over the course of a 25-minute session, throwing passes to former Trojans teammates before concluding with a pooch punt.

“We had a bunch of teams here, I think they said all 32,” Williams said. “But to have that investment that they’re possibly gonna make, to have the GM and the head coach here to watch me … To have them here and support me is very cool.”

The signs linking Williams and the Bears have intensified over the past week. They traded quarterback Justin Fields to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Saturday, creating an opening for the 2022 Heisman Trophy winner to potentially become their new starter.

Chicago also got Allen in a trade from the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday. Not only does he represent a strong option in the passing game for a rookie quarterback, Williams is friends with the 11-year veteran.

“I’ve known Keenan for probably a year now, I’ve hung out with him a few times,” Williams said. “And so to have him here and for me to possibly be going to the same team as him now, it’s exciting. … To possibly be able to have him as a wide receiver coming off his best year, all the knowledge that you can gain from somebody like that, it’s great.”

The ties between Williams and the Bears are only likely to grow. Williams said he met with Eberflus and Poles over the past two days, and a pre-draft visit is likely the next step.

Despite speculation that Williams could try to maneuver himself to another team, he said the recent contact wasn’t about the Bears having to sell themselves as a desirable destination.

“They’re trying to see if I’m the right fit to be first pick as QB and possibly be the face of the franchise,” Williams said. “They’re trying to figure out if this is the guy they should invest all the time, energy, effort and money into, which is obviously important in this situation. So it was great and just building relationships.”

The on-field component was the focus at Allyson Felix Field at Loker Track Stadium, with Williams electing not to participate in individual drills and only throwing. He showed good mechanics but did overthrow wide receivers Brenden Rice and Tahj Washington on two deep balls.

Rice, the son of NFL legend Jerry Rice, also came up with an impressive catch by stretching out to grab a high slant from Williams.

“Man, he was bombing away,” Rice said of his quarterback the past two seasons.

Williams was mostly pleased with how the morning went, while keeping an eye on what is coming next.

“I wanted to come here and put on a show,” Williams said. “It’s only about 30 days out until I’m possibly picked, so been working on actually preparing for an actual season and maybe not draft day or anything like that.”

___ AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL

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