Will Levis Draft Profile
Kentucky quarterback, Will Levis, is one of the most hyped up quarterbacks in this year’s draft. After starting his career at Penn State University, he transferred to Kentucky with two years left of eligibility. He only had limited playing time at Penn State before he became the full-time starter for the Kentucky Wildcats. While at Penn State, Levis had four offensive coordinators in three seasons which means he has had to adapt and learn many different offenses. At Kentucky, he had the opportunity to play for two well-respected offensive coordinators, Liam Coen and Rich Scangarello. In 2022, Coen served as Los Angeles Rams’ offensive coordinator while Scangarello was the 49ers’ quarterbacks coach in 2021 and the Broncos’ offensive coordinator in 2019. Having experience with two NFL-level play callers and play designers means that Levis has plenty of experience with NFL offenses and should be able to transition easily into the league. Having graduated in three years, Levis is an intelligent player and that shows on the field. Standing at 6’3 232 lbs., Levis has the prototypical size of an NFL pocket passer. Levis is a name that will be generating a lot of attention leading up to April’s draft; now that you know who he is, let’s get to how he plays.
One thing that pops when watching Levis are his eyes when he is in the pocket. When he is able to scan the field and read the defense, he is decisive and takes what the defense gives him. It is apparent that he’s had NFL coaches in his ears when he’s going through his progressions. The RPO-game comes naturally to Levis; when he gets the ball out of his hands fast, he makes defenses pay with devastating accuracy and anticipation. I didn’t see it a whole lot, but in the snaps where Levis played with his back to the defense and used play-action, he did a really good job at anticipating holes in the defense towards the middle of the field. Levis does a really good job in the quick-game; when he is kept clean, he’s a distributor and gets the ball into his playmakers’ hands. When watching Levis play, you can tell he trusts his teammates. He takes advantage when defenses give his receivers one-on-one chances downfield and allows them to make plays. In the red-zone, he is intentional with his ball placement and throws safe passes. When it comes to mobility, Levis is a powerful runner who is capable of shedding defenders with his pure strength. He has the ability to extend the play outside of the pocket and pickup crucial first downs with his legs. You see why Levis is looked at as a first round pick when he is kept clean; he doesn’t miss the easy throws and he can sling the rock. Levis is one of the smartest players in this entire draft and teams really value that in their quarterback rooms.
While there are a lot of things to really like about Levis’ game, there are also a lot of inconsistencies that coaches will need to clean up. Levis doesn’t have a ton of confidence in his feet; there will be times where he puts himself in scenarios where he is throwing off-balanced for no reason. Against pressure his feet get antsy and start to fade backwards rather than step up through the pressure. He is slow to set his base which prevents from making difficult throws while on the move. One of Levis’ strengths is his quick throwing motion, but his follow-through is inconsistent. Instead of doing the prototypical “thumb to hip pocket”, he cuts his motion short and makes it look like a flick. While players like Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes flick it, Levis doesn’t have the ability to throw from different arm angles and off different platforms like those two future hall-of-famers. There were a few throws where you see really good “shoulder turn” from Levis which allowed passes to fly out of his hands with velocity, but it doesn’t happen on a consistent basis. While he has plenty of arm strength and can throw the ball far, his tape lacked throws with a ton of zip in tight windows. I do believe a lot of these inconsistencies are coachable. Considering Levis’ lack of coaching continuity, it is hard to blame him for not having a stable way of operating. The next paragraph however, are legitimate long-term concerns I have about Levis.
My biggest knock on Levis is how he performed under pressure. When he’s kept clean, he is a phenomenal decision-maker, but all of that goes out the window when you make him uncomfortable. He lacks accuracy and velocity against the blitz, he doesn’t keep his eyes downfield when evading pressure, and he hesitates which throws off timing. Levis’ inability to make plays against pressure is a big reason why I docked his pocket presence. The hardest category to judge purely based off film is natural leadership. The reason Levis’ grade for this category is so low has to do with his body language and how he interacts with his teammates. I want a quarterback who uplifts the team and can flip the momentum when he’s needed the most. That wasn’t what I saw when watching Levis; you would catch him yelling at his teammates if they messed up and his linemen wouldn’t turn around to pick him up after taking a big hit. Response to a bad play is another big determining factor for this category. Levis tends to turn bad plays into bad possessions whether it be taking crucial sacks or missing opportunities downfield due to pressure. For these reasons, I have a hard time seeing Levis as an NFL franchise quarterback.
I believe Levis can make a really nice living as a backup quarterback in the NFL. His intelligence, mobility, and arm strength make him a perfect scout-team quarterback. While that can feel like I am dissing him, I don’t mean disrespect. I also think he is capable of coming in for a team and running their offense, but isn’t a reliable guy to win games against defenses that dial heavy pressure. In a time where we have teams building around quarterbacks like Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen; I don’t think you draft a quarterback in the first round unless you firmly believe he has the potential of being a player of that caliber. I believe Cooper Rush and CJ Beathard are two quarterbacks that are good comparisons for Levis; smart quarterbacks with serviceable mobility and can play within structure. These guys aren’t quarterbacks you build your franchises around, but can come in during the season and win a few games. It seems like the general public is a lot higher on Levis than I am, but I have a hard time getting past how he performs against pressure and his inherent body language.
Natural Arm Talent: 10/12
Natural Leadership: 5.5/10
Decision Making + Eyes + Anticipation: 8/10
Pocket Presence: 5.25/8
Athleticism + Mobility: 6.5/8
Deep Ball: 4.25/6
Feet + Base: 3/6
Throwing Motion: 4.75/6
Toughness + Fearlessness: 4.25/6
Final Rating: 73
Pro Comparison: CJ Beathard / Cooper Rush
Draft Projection: Mid-First Round Pick
Draft Grade: 4th Round
Team Fits: Commanders, Giants, Raiders