From now until the 2023 NFL Draft, we will scout and create profiles for as many prospects as possible, examining their strengths, weaknesses, and what they can bring to an NFL franchise. These players could be potential top-10 picks, all the way down to Day 3 selections and priority undrafted free agents Today, I’ll be profiling Kentucky QB Will Levis.
#7 Will Levis, QB, Kentucky (Senior) – 6040, 229lb
|Player||Ht/Wt||Hand Size||Arm Length||Wingspan|
|Will Levis||6’4, 229lb||10 5/8||32”||N/A|
|40-Yard Dash||10-Yard Dash||Short Shuttle||3-Cone|
|Broad Jump||Vertical||Bench Press|
— Has the size and build you look for in a franchise QB
— Athletic frame with chiseled muscle to hold up against bigger defenders
— Good athlete when it comes to creating for himself outside of structure
— Can extend plays with his legs as a passer as well as scrambling when the play breaks down
— Can be a load to bring down as a runner, being an asset in short yardage and goal-line situations
— Tough player who played through several injuries in 2022
— Does a good job executing play action and boot rollout passes
— Can throw on the run and make off-platform throws
— Can operate under center as well as in the shotgun
— Does a good job on RPO reads, faking the give and firing the ball to his intended target
— Possesses a strong arm that can stretch the field vertically or driving the ball with velocity
— Can put extra emphasis on his passes, firing the ball quickly in tight spaces
— Will drop the ball in the bucket to his intended target as well as completing back-shoulder throws
— Can maneuver the pocket to evade pressure
— Isn’t exceptionally fast as a runner
— Dealt with durability issues last season due to his style of play
— Plenty of his completions were screen passes and quicks over the middle, inflating his completion percentage
— Isn’t the best at picking apart zone coverage and moving defenders with his eyes
— Tends to underthrow and overthrow passes down the field
— Is slow to get off his initial read and go through his progressions
— Can be a tad slow on his release of the football as the receiver comes out of his break, allowing DBs to jump the route
— Slow delivery/release of the ball leads to inaccurate passes out of rhythm
— Ball placement can be erratic when he tries to muscle throws to his intended target
— Opts to throw off-platform rather than using his mechanics consistently
— Needs to take some zip off underneath passes as they will sail over intended target’s heads
— Doesn’t do a good job improvising when the initial play breaks down
— Senior Prospect from Madison, CN
— Born in Newton, Massachusetts
— Great-grandfather, Alva Kelley, was an All-American football player at Cornell University; father, Mike, was a tight end at Denison University; mother, Beth Kelley Levis, was a two-time All-American soccer player at Yale, uncle, David Kelley, was an Academic All-American football player at Yale
— Three-star recruit by all three major recruiting outlets – 247Sports, ESPN, and Rivals
— Three-year starter who broke school records in passing yards an TDs in a season
— Also lettered in baseball
— Carried a 4.0 grade-point average during his prep career
— Redshirted first year on campus after committing to Penn State
— Appeared in seven games with one start in 2019 and completed 28-of-47 passes for 223 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions along with 213 rushing yards on 51 carries with three scores
— Played in eight games with one start in 2020 and completed 33-of-55 passes for 421 yards and a score and had 82 rushes for 260 yards and three touchdowns
— Transferred from Penn State to Kentucky prior to the 2021 season
— Elected a team captain started all 13 games for the Wildcats in 2021, throwing for 2,827 yards and 24 touchdowns (233-353-66%) and carried the ball 107 times for 376 yards and nine TDs
— Started 11 games in in 2022 and completed 185 of 283 passes (65.4%) for 2,406 yards and 19 TDs and 10 INTs and two rushing TDs
— Missed one game with shoulder and turf toe injuries and opted out of the team’s bowl game in 2022
— SEC Honor Role Student, Two-time Academic All-Big Ten selection
— Took part in multiple community service projects as a part of Community Cats
Will Levis was the man in Connecticut in high school, coming from athletic bloodlines as he took the torch and starred on the gridiron as well as on the mound in baseball. The three-star recruit committed to Penn State, seeing action as a backup for his first two seasons as a dual-threat QB who had certain packages from him. He ended up transferring to Kentucky where he became a team captain during his first season, giving the Wildcats a dual threat under center who could threaten defenses with his big arm as well as with his legs. He has the arm strength to stretch the field and drop it into the bucket, like in this first clip, or throw it nearly 60 yards downfield, like in the second clip.
As mentioned above, Levis can throw with touch when he is in rhythm, making some nice passes to his receivers over the middle of the field as well as down the sideline. Check out this drop in the bucket he makes against Tennessee on this play action pass. He turns around and delivers a beautiful ball into the outstretched hands of his intended target for the first down.
He has the arm talent to drop it in the bucket as well as make back-shoulder fades when necessary. On this play, he throws it to the outside shoulder of the receiver breaking inside with defender inside as the routes stem across each other, putting the ball in a place where only his intended target could get it.
Levis is a good athlete who can create with his legs both as a passer as well as a runner. Here we see him execute a play action boot to the left, throwing off-platform across his body to his TE coming across the middle of the field for the first down.
He also is an accomplished runner, using his big, athletic, rugged frame to break arm tackles and pick up yards on the ground both in scramble situations as well as on designed QB runs. Here is an example against Youngstown State of Levis escaping the pocket and taking the ball inside the red zone.
There are several issues Levis has as a passer, making his physical traits more of a projection to the league. He seems to process slowly in the pocket and can be late to diagnose and throw the football, causing him to throw out of rhythm and passes to be overthrown/underthrown. This also gives defenders a chance to jump routes and make plays on the football. In the clips below Levis puts the ball in jeopardy on three separate occasions, attempting to muscle it in to his intended target rather than continuing to go through his reads or live to fight another down.
Levis can be slow to work off the first read in his progression, causing him to miss potentially open receivers downfield, like in this clip against the Volunteers. He manages to get the ball off to the open target, but he throws off-balance, whipping the ball to the outside of the receiver for the incompletion.
Levis needs to be a better decision maker with his passes as he will try and fire passes to receivers that are underthrown and in tight coverage. Watch this pass that gets picked off by CB Kelee Ringo. Levis severely underthrows the pass to the end zone, pausing with his feet as he gets antsy in the pocket, failing to step into his throw, this one into double coverage.
Another area of concern with Levis is his overall pocket presence. He has the mobility to escape pressure, but he needs to do a better job of sensing pressure when it’s coming at him. Watch this play against Florida. Levis gets absolutely drilled in the pocket, not recognizing that he is throwing hot as the RT picks up the inside most dangerous on the blitz, leaving the DE to come off free on the edge for a pleasant surprise.
Will Levis has the measurables and athletic traits that you look for in a prototypical franchise QB. He has the arm talent and the leadership qualities that teams desire in a signal caller and is able to create off-script as well as in the pocket when kept clean. He also is a good athlete who can pick up tough yards in short-yardage situations as well as when he escapes the pocket. However, Levis needs to improve his pocket awareness and the speed at which he processes the game if he wishes to become a capable starting quarterback at the next level. He mechanics need to get cleaned up too. He must rely less on arm strength in attempting to fire passes places where they shouldn’t be going in coverage.
When watching Levis this season and during my deep dive, I was reminded of Blaine Gabbert, who was also a big, strong, athletic QB, coming out of Missouri. Gabbert had nearly identical measurables and testing to Levis coming out of college (6’4 3/8”, 234lb, 4.62 40, 33 1/2” vert, 10’0” broad) as well as production as a big-armed, dual-threat QB. The Jaguars drafted Gabbert 10th overall in 2011, and he had mixed results his first two seasons in the league. His athleticism stood out, but his inconsistency and lack of development as a passer ended up relegating him to a journeyman/high-quality backup option the last several years of his NFL career.
This isn’t to say that Levis can’t develop into a quality starting QB; the physical tools are there. However, the production has never been that inspiring and the number of technical/ mental deficiencies stick out on tape, suggesting that he would do best to come and sit for a year or two to learn and develop instead of being thrown into the fire. Levis is likely to be a top-20 selection and Pittsburgh shouldn’t have any interest having taken Kenny Pickett last year. Whoever drafts Levis must have a solid game plan on how to best develop his raw traits without having him lose confidence if having to start right out of the gate.
Projection: Day One
Depot Draft Grade: 7.7 – Potential Starter/Good Backup (3rd Round)
Games Watched: at Florida (2022), vs Youngstown State (2022), at Tennessee (2022), vs Georgia (2022)