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Can Will Levis become a franchise quarterback?

Former University of Kentucky quarterback Will Levis is viewed as a guaranteed first-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, with it being extremely likely he is one of the first ten players to hear his name called. Levis is coming from a pro-style offense at Kentucky where a former Los Angeles Rams offensive assistant coach called plays in the 2021 season, a season in which Levis flourished. He struggled in 2022 with a different coordinator, which has raised significant question marks to his potential. But Levis does tick off a lot of key boxes in terms of his size, intelligence, and leadership ability. On the field, Levis shows flashes of a franchise quarterback, but there are plenty of concerning moments mixed in as well.

What makes Will Levis a potential franchise quarterback?

For starters, Levis has an extremely strong throwing arm that allows him to make tight-window throws, especially in the red zone when things get even more congested. Levis has both the anticipation and arm strength necessary to make tight throws against zone coverage. Being able to make throws like that is a necessity if a QB is to become a franchise signal-caller.

He also has the ability to perfectly drop a pass on an opposite hash slot fade throw 30 yards down the field. Arm strength is not classified in terms of just how hard a quarterback can throw the ball, but also if they can make throws like the one Levis makes here.

Levis also possesses a clutch factor. He seems to become a better passer on key downs, especially late in games.

Coming from a pro-style system at Kentucky, he has more experience with play action with his back to the defense than most quarterbacks coming out of college, allowing him to be more comfortable making the transition to the pros. He remains poised throughout the play, going right to his first read with his eyes. If his first option is taken away, he does not get panicky, rather working through his progressions and looking for an open receiver.

Levis does a great job against zone in knowing where to progress to and how to use his eyes to manipulate and hold defenders to his receivers open or more separation. He also shows a great understanding of where his check-down receivers are against zone coverage and when to progress to them.

He keeps two hands on the football in the pocket to help prevent fumbles. Levis does a good job of understanding when it is time to give up on a play by either throwing it away or eating a sack if he has pressure in his face.

Levis additionally brings a threat in the running game with his size and athleticism.

Where does Will Levis struggle?

In the non-play-action short passing game, Levis needs to significantly clean up his accuracy. There were far too many instances in which Levis threw a ball too high, put it on the wrong shoulder, or missed the receiver altogether. His deeper throws need work, as they almost always hung up in the air allowing defensive backs who were beaten to make up ground and make a play on the ball. His ball placement can also be improved on these longer throws, as they often did not lead the receiver or floated too close to the sideline. This is partially a by-product of him being a bit lazy on deep shots as he does not step into them, instead just flinging them with his arm.

Levis’ upper body and lower half have a tendency to get a bit out of sync, which is especially prevalent on his deep and intermediate passes, and results in multiple inaccurate balls. He takes false steps with his lower half leaving him at times when he throws.

There were far too many instances in both the short and intermediate game in which Levis would wait until the receiver was out of their break to start his throwing motion on rhythm throws.

He does not always know his exit points in the pocket and steps up into pressure rather than sliding into one spot. He had moments where he would duck or slide against phantom pressure.

Will Levis highlights

Will Levis 2023 NFL Combine results

Levis impressed with the velocity on his throws, measuring at an average of 59 miles per hour, the third-highest among QBs since 2016, according to NFL Network. When asked why he was throwing at the combine when other QBs were throwing at pro days, Levis cracked a smile and a one-liner:

“Because I’ve got a cannon. I want to show it off.”

He did not participate in the bench press, agility drills, nor the 40-yard dash, so his Relative Athletic Score isn’t calculated.

What others are saying about Will Levis

“Will Levis struggled to live up to expectations as a senior in 2022, but I think there are more reasons than excuses behind his inconsistent play. There is no question that he needs to see things more quickly, but he is physically built for the pro game with impressive tools, intelligence and toughness worth developing.” Dane Brugler – The Athletic

Levis is a player who ideally can start for a team later in his rookie year or at the start of his sophomore season after learning from an experienced quarterback. The Las Vegas Raiders and Indianapolis Colts both make sense as potential landing spots in the top seven picks.

Levis’ size, arm strength, athleticism, football IQ, play-action success, and comfort against zone coverage give him the ceiling of a high-end starting quarterback. However, his struggles against the blitz, questionable lower half/upper half sync, and inconsistent accuracy gives him the floor of a circumstantial starter.

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