Kentucky quarterback Will Levis was taken by the Tennessee Titans with the No. 33 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. The Titans traded up with the Arizona Cardinals to make the selection. Levis was the biggest Day 1 slide on Thursday and was left waiting in the green room by the end of the night. Now he will head to Nashville, where he’ll compete with 2022 pick Malik Willis to be the presumed successor to Ryan Tannehill.
After toiling in obscurity at Penn State, Will Levis transferred to Kentucky as a junior where he earned the starting quarterback job for the Wildcats. In 2021, he threw for 2,827 yards with 24 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He showed a knack too for making plays with his legs, rushing for 376 yards that season and leading the team with nine rushing touchdowns.
Levis struggled with injuries last season. Though he still managed to stick it out for 11 games, his numbers did take a dip. He had 2,406 passing yards, with 19 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He was far less effective as a runner, losing 107 yards on the ground and scoring only twice.
While Levis is not in the same conversation as CJ Stroud or Bryce Young, he could still hear his name called in the first round of the draft with so many teams looking for their next quarterback.
Will Levis: Scouting Report
One box Levis checks right off the bat is the look of a pro signal caller. Standing 6’ 4” and weighing 229 pounds with hands well over 10 inches, he’s got the size that will appeal to teams.
He possesses a big arm, capable of launching the ball way down the field. But Levis has some work to do as a passer, both in terms of his accuracy and how well he reads the field and an opposing defense. Some scouting reports suggest that he struggles in the pocket too.
Levis will appeal to NFL teams because of his running ability. Big and physical, he proved himself more than capable of tucking the ball into his arms and moving the chains himself. He can also be a real rushing threat at the goal line, keeping defenses guessing. And that’s where he might best be able to make an impact as a rookie in the NFL.
All in all, Levis looks like the kind of developmental prospect with high upside who could thrive in the NFL after a season or two as an understudy.
Mock Draft landing spots
Despite a recent surge in odds that Levis will head to the Carolina Panthers at No. 1, neither ESPN nor The Athletic analysts seem to agree. Mel Kiper ended up drafting Levis to the Tennessee Titans at No. 11 in a recent mock with Todd McShay. He added this analysis of the choice:
“Thanks for not taking my guy, Todd, and leaving him here for me. The Titans could get one of the steals of the draft. Levis is a little bit of a gunslinger, but he hasn’t come close to his ceiling. He is my second-ranked passer in this class. With the right infrastructure around him, he is going to thrive. Tennessee has playmakers to help him. Now it needs an offensive lineman (or two) on Day 2.”
The Atheltic’s Joe Rexrode also had Tennessee scooping up the former Kentucky Wildcat at No. 11.
“The Titans looked into moving up to take Levis with Seattle’s pick at No. 5 and Las Vegas’ pick at No. 7 but ultimately balked at Seattle’s price and bailed out of talks with the Raiders, gambling that no one would jump in front of them to take Levis. That paid off with no draft capital lost to acquire the gifted yet inconsistent Levis, a clear object of interest for the Titans throughout the pre-draft process. Levis struggled in 2022 with a new offensive coordinator, lackluster support from his O-line and receivers, plus his own injuries. But his 2021 season under Liam Coen was that of a top-five-caliber player. Now he can sit for a year behind Ryan Tannehill before assuming control in 2024.”
Fantasy football implications
Levis is likely not going to be relevant during his rookie season. If he does, in fact, land with the Titans, they could either choose to have him sit behind Tannehill for a season or have him battle it out with Malik Willis to see who will start the 2023 campaign. Either way, for fantasy football, it will likely be 2024 before Levis may crack a lineup.
For dynasty fantasy football leagues, Levis will be a first-round selection in rookie drafts. It could depend on landing spot for where exactly he falls, but as far as quarterbacks are concerned, I’d draft Bryce Young, CJ Stroud and Anthony Richardson all ahead of Levis. Again, the expectation should be that you won’t be starting him this year.
Rookie quarterbacks tend to have slow starts in the NFL. For redraft leagues, that typically means you don’t have to worry about drafting them. Kenny Pickett, for example, was the only quarterback drafted last year in the first two rounds. He finished as the QB28 after playing in 13 games. No need to worry about drafting Levis in redraft leagues for 2023.