Outside of the expected top two of CJ Stroud and Bryce Young in some order, Will Lewis has been the most-hyped quarterback of the way-too-early 2023 Mock Drafts.
Of the five quarterbacks I have going in the first round, Levis is not among them. That skews from the current consensus: Levis is currently a “consensus” first-rounder in 2023 according to the industry and one recent CBS Sports Mock Draft even has Levis going No. 1 overall.
That’s a little rich for me.
With all the Levis buzz, I decided to get into the film for a lock at the pros and cons of his game. Obviously his 2022 game film will decide his fate as the NFL covets projection and ceiling but if I had to give him a current projection based on his film, I’d say Levis is a third- to fifth-round guy.
Levis got valuable reps and game experience in 2021 at Kentucky after transferring from Penn State and had success (66% of passes for 2,826 yards with 24 touchdowns and 13 interceptions) but will need to improve on his decision making and accuracy to take his game to the next level. I think Matt Corral and Sam Howell are comparable quarterbacks this year to his skills and personally prefer them both to Levis.
That said, Levis is obviously going to be an NFL player and we’ll get a much better feel for his ceiling this season, after which we will have two full seasons of film to evaluate. This season will be a bigger test for Levis, as security blanket Wan’Dale Robinson will be missed – as will offensive coordinator Liam Cohen, who’s back to the NFL.
- Levis has a great frame at 6-foot-3, 232 pounds and good, albeit not elite, arm strength.
- While Cohen is gone, 2021 will prove extremely valuable for Levis’s development learning from coaches with NFL backgrounds. Rich Scangarello is now in charge coming from the 49ers and takes over in 2022 he has seven years of NFL experience. Trust me, Levis coming up in an NFL background will be a huge advantage for him come draft time compared to the systems that Corral and Howell played in.
- Levis excels in the quick game and completes the high percentage throws that you expect a quarterback at this level to. Levis is better throwing to the boundary or middle of the field based on the four games I watched and also likes to throw to the crossers and the deep over routes. Levis is an accurate passer when he has ample time to set his feet and finish.
- Kentucky also throws lots of screens and nakeds behind the LOS. Levis has a quick release and can turn the double-play RPO as quick as anyone.
- Levis also has the mobility to keep plays alive with his eyes downfield and does a nice job of feeling the rush and maneuvering in the pocket to keep plays alive.
- Levis is a tough runner and is not scared of contact and will get the tough yards when they need him to in critical situations.
- Levis will need to improve on his deep shots. He regularly misses these on contested overthrows over the middle of the field, not by much, and will need to hit these for his game to evolve.
- He is under pressure a decent amount of time but I noticed he drops his elbow on some of these throws as the ball will sail on you when you do that.
- Levis gets confused at times on coverages and forces bad decisions which lead to a handful of interceptions. The teams that mixed up and played a lot of off coverage with their corners like Tennessee-Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Florida were able to bait him into some throws that he would love to have back. These are the growing pains at quarterback that only game reps can teach you.
- The other thing on film that jumps out to me as something Levis can improve on is his accuracy on the short to intermediate throws. Hitting your intended receiver on the proper shoulder can be a minimum advantage of two to three yards as it forces him to catch it and get upfield to gain the max yards falling forward rather than slow down to catch it and then try to advance. Levis routinely throws the ball on the wrong shoulder of his targets especially on the easier throws. Quarterbacks will sometimes do this to protect their receiver but I only saw this a few times. He does this on some screens as well which is a concern as these are easy throws that need to be on the proper shoulder.
- Levis also threw a few interceptions on deep overs where he tried to throw his receiver open to the sideline but the defensive back was able to track it across the field and under cut it. Most of these throws were to the field, which are longer throws. This is something he can improve on or just throw the ball away. Levis misses too many open deep shots and needs to put the ball only where his receivers can get it or nobody gets it.
Levis has a great opportunity in 2022 to put Kentucky in a position to contend in the SEC East as well as improve his personal draft position as a prospect. Levis has the experience, coaching and players around him to take his game to another level. He made a great decision to come back to elevate his skills. Kentucky seems invested in its program and Levis will be a name that people can look at down the road as a pivotal figure in school history, but I don’t think that makes him a slam-dunk first-round candidate for 2023.
Blake Brockermeyer is a College Football Analyst for 247Sports. He was an All-American OT at the University of Texas and was a first-round NFL Draft pick by the Carolina Panthers in 1995. He was a defensive quality control analyst for SMU from 2018-2020. He has sons on the Texas (Luke) and Alabama (Tommy, James) football teams.