The Will Levis rumors have been flying like crazy in the week leading up to the draft, with an anonymous Reddit post triggering betting line changes for Levis to become the first or second pick of the draft. During the season and offseason, the debate has largely centered around Ohio State’s CJ Stroud and Alabama’s Bryce Young as the first two off the board, and Levis’ projections have moved up and down over the last few months.
It’s widely believed that he has a high ceiling, but may not be able to start right away in the NFL. While he was limited in receiver options at Kentucky, he also was mistake-prone, throwing plenty of preventable interceptions that cost the Wildcats several games. He had 24 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in 2021, and had 19 TDs and 10 INTs in 2022.
Levis could certainly be a quarterback worth a first-round pick — but is he worth a No. 1 or No. 2 overall? The Kentucky QB may need a year under his belt before he can start. A few mock drafts have him going to the Tennessee Titans, where he would likely jump 2022 third-round pick Malik Willis to become the successor to Ryan Tannehill. ESPN’s Matt Miller sees him going to the Buccaneers behind Baker Mayfield, which could certainly be a good fit in the post-Brady era there.
But there are serious concerns about him — his feel for pressure, his accuracy and interceptions, and his tendency to hold onto the ball too long. He has the visible plusses — size, arm strength, and speed and agility on the run — and perhaps his injury issues made the detriments of his game stand out too much at Kentucky.
He’s been compared to both Josh Allen and Jameis Winston, two QBs who have had very different careers in the NFL. If Levis continues to be injury-prone and make poor passing decisions and go down the Winston road, he could turn out to be an enormous first-round bust (another worthy comparison here would be Jake Locker).
If he improves under the right coaching and lands with a good group of receivers, he could go the Allen road. But the question will remain until he proves himself one way or another, and you don’t want that kind of question about a No. 1 or 2 overall pick.
Levis should go in the mid-first round to a team like Tennessee or Tampa Bay that can give him the necessary time to develop before throwing him out onto a pro field against the best defenders in the country. He is not currently ready to start, and if you go early, you’re expecting him to start right off the bat. His raw passing talent, size, and running ability are all traits that deserve first-round consideration, and I don’t see him slipping to the second. With time to develop, the chances of him being a first-round bust decrease significantly, and he could become a Josh Allen-type figure for his new team.