The Tennessee Titans draft pick profiles continue with former Kentucky quarterback Will Levis, the Titans’ second selection in the 2023 NFL draft.
Levis is the most notable pick the team made in the NFL draft for a few reasons.
The first is that his selection signals the eventual end of the Ryan Tannehill era in Tennessee. While Malik Willis can be considered a precursor to that transition, selecting Levis is Mike Vrabel doubling down on his efforts to secure a young franchise quarterback (it is also not a good sign for Willis).
Another reason why the Levis pick is interesting is that he was snagged in the 2nd round instead of the 1st round. His fall out of the first round was (as far as I know) not predicted by anyone within the NFL draft community and it became one of the stories of the 2023 NFL Draft.
That was shocking and fortunate for the Tennessee Titans who were able to land one of the top-5 quarterbacks in the draft without having to give up a first-round pick to do so.
According to ESPN, there was a 92% chance that Levis was going to be picked in the top 10. All the Tennessee Titans gave up to get one of the consensus first-round quarterbacks was a future third-round pick (as well as a pick swap in the second and third rounds)
Levis began his college football at Penn State where he red-shirted and played from 2018-2020. Primarily he served as a backup or wildcat quarterback in Happy Valley, but in 2021 he transferred to Kentucky and helped lead a revival for a much-maligned SEC football program.
Will Levis had an impressive career at Kentucky, finishing with a 17-7 record as a starter, tying Terry Wilson for the second-most quarterback wins since 1993. Levis was voted a two-time team captain for the team.
While Levis helped elevate the Kentucky program in 2021 and 2022, the lack of elite talent surrounding him ultimately led to him having less success in college when compared to his peers selected before him in the draft, Bryce Young, CJ Stroud, and Anthony Richardson.
Despite not enjoying the success that Young or Stroud had with their teams, there are a few reasons to believe that the adversity he fought through could help him out on the next level. First, Kentucky ran a pro-style offense which as the name suggests is much more similar to NFL-style offenses than compared to what Malik Willis ran at Liberty, for example.
This may help him make the all-important "adjustment" to the NFL.
Additionally, this isn't necessarily pure analysis, but just my two cents, having to go out against a defense like Georgia once a year with an obviously less talented supporting cast has to toughen you up a little.
Additionally, Levis was plagued by injuries during his senior year. There is the image, which I would not suggest for the squeamish, of Levis holding up his hand with his middle finger jutting out at nearly a 90-degree angle from the rest of his hand. He would finish the game too.
There was also a more serious toe injury that may have hurt his draft stock as well. According to NFL insider, Chris Mortensen the toe injury remains a bit of an unknown going forward.
Overall, Will Levis was a standout player in college who has all the physical tools to succeed in the NFL. However, it is most likely that he will have to sit and wait behind Ryan Tannehill for another year. Not to mention, he will, as of now, still have to compete against Malik Willis who will be looking to prove that he can be the successor to Ryan Tannehill.
Regardless, the Tennessee Titans got great value on paper through the draft night slip of Will Levis. But, it doesn’t matter what your value is on paper, all that matters in the NFL is if you can win football games.