The 2023 NFL Draft is approaching quickly and the quarterback class is all the rage as usual. Between Alabama’s Bryce Young, Ohio State’s CJ Stroud, and more, there are questions regarding who is the top passer in this year’s class. One name that the nation is familiar with is Kentucky quarterback Will Levis. Despite a load of QBs in the class, Levis deserves some recognition as a potential top selection at his position.
Why is Levis worth it? It’s the culmination of his talent and fiery leadership that helps him stand apart.
Background on Will Levis
A redshirt senior from Massachusetts, Will Levis set records at Xavier High School in Connecticut leading up to his collegiate career. He then committed to Penn State University, where he would back up fellow quarterback Sean Clifford. After redshirting his freshman year, Levis would go on to start a handful of games and ultimately secure 644 passing yards and over 470 rushing yards, demonstrating his athleticism for the position.
Eventually, Will Levis entered the transfer portal, deciding to commit to Kentucky’s program in 2021 and was named the starter almost immediately. Since then, Levis has found himself in the spotlight a bit, playing in the SEC and helping make Kentucky one of the more successful programs in the country. In his first season as a starter, Will Levis notched 2826 yards passing with 24 passing touchdowns.
Will Levis is the prototype NFL QB
While Will Levis is not exactly the best prospect in the 2023 NFL Draft class, he does have an argument for being the best quarterback. Standing at 6-3 and 232 pounds, Levis is built like a brick house with a solid lower half that presents athleticism rare for the position. This athleticism has served him well, considering he’s accrued 742 yards rushing with 17 rushing touchdowns on his career.
Levis’s greatest trait has to be his arm overall. His throwing power is very apparent, as he flicks the ball with ease across the entire field. Will Levis can make all of the throws one would expect an NFL quarterback to make. What sets him apart, though, is his ability to throw off-platform and generate torque specifically in his core rather than through full body technique. Countless times Levis adjusted on the fly, under duress and delivered a strike with ease, either moving off his base or throwing off his back foot. Despite it being ill-advised, Levis makes it work to an extent. Matt Waldman discusses Levis’s arm strength below:
Additionally, Levis demonstrates athleticism rare for the position. Kentucky ran some heavy run-pass option concepts from time to time, taking advantage of Will Levis’s movement ability. He shows solid burst in the open field but also has the frame to take punishment and throw his shoulder down through contact. He does not shy away from it either, making him a tough player to account for by a defense.
Will Levis is not without flaws
Levis presents a bunch of mechanical flaws, particularly with his feet, that affect his throwing. While he makes the occasional flashy play off platform or off his back foot, Levis has a tendency to drift on his dropbacks and not consistently place his front foot to emphasize accuracy. Ideally, quarterbacks plant that front foot with toes facing toward their intended target or at least within the vicinity of their target. Instead, Levis seemingly rushes through this part of his throwing motion, and his front toes will point away, often planting in the direction that he started the play looking at.
Additionally, Will Levis sometimes rushes his passes. While stout enough to handle contact from pass rushers, Levis will rely on athleticism to bail out and rush the play, rather than navigate the pocket cleanly to go through his progressions. It is definitely a coachable trait, but it is a necessary one to cultivate in order to have any success at the NFL level.
One final concern to have with Will Levis is his production this year. While he did deal with a nagging turf toe injury, Levis did not rush for positive yards at all this season and his overall production dipped. Considering his losing fellow Big Ten transfer Wan’Dale Robinson to the draft, Levis’s game took a major hit. Robinson accounted for 104 receptions last season and eclipsed 1300+ yards on the year, which is not an easy loss to overcome. Does Levis require playmakers to even be a serviceable quarterback? That is a strong question for NFL teams to answer come this Spring.
NFL Draft projection
Will Levis is considered one of the top passers in this year’s class, behind the aforementioned Young and Stroud. He presents a unique combination of athleticism, size and arm strength that distinguishes his game as translatable to the NFL level, but the key is for him to clean up mechanics to remain more consistent with accuracy. One thing is for certain though, the intangibles for the position are present, and NFL teams may fall in love with his fiery competitive nature that pops up even on film.
Overall, Levis projects as a late first round pick that could sneak his way into the top 5 to 10 selections given his talent and the ever growing value of the quarterback position in the game of football.