Will Levis is Flying Up NFL Draft Boards; The Case For and Against the Kentucky QB Going No. 1 Overall

2023 NFL Mock Draft, Will Levis. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports
2023 NFL Mock Draft, Will Levis. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports /

Will Levis has become the trendy pick to supplant Bryce Young and CJ Stroud as QB1 of the 2023 NFL Draft. The Kentucky Wildcat gunslinger is an exciting watch, but is he worthy of all the hype that surrounds him?

Will Levis Profile

Will Levis was once a three-star recruit out of the state of Connecticut. He garnered interest around the country before committing to the Penn State Nittany Lions.

After redshirting as a freshman in 2018, Levis only drew two starts at quarterback in 2019 and 2020 combined. At this point, the talented signal-caller began exploring other options. Levis quickly found a new home with Mark Stoops’ Kentucky Wildcats.

Levis won the starting quarterback gig and became the focal point of an offense spearheaded by a brilliant offensive coordinator, Liam Coen. Coen spent 2018-2020 under Sean McVay’s wing as the Rams’ assistant wide receiver and quarterback coach.

Coen brought a variation of his mentor’s system with him to Lexington. The zone-heavy scheme uses play-action calls to set up Coen’s mission to assert dominance in the run game.

Unlike many of his peers in this class, Levis actually takes snaps under center, primarily on play action but also in short-yardage situations. Furthermore, the Wildcat offense features several motion plays, allowing Levis to assess the defense before the snap.

It cannot be stressed enough how much these traits — especially the last two — will benefit him when teams consider his ability to translate quickly to the NFL.

Behind the strength of their new quarterback and play caller on offense, the Kentucky Wildcats averaged 32.3 points as a unit in 2021. Running back Chris Rodriguez and wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson deserve their fair share of credit for transforming the group into a high-powered attack.

Will Levis started 13 games, completing 66% of his passes and leading his squad to a 10-3 campaign in the SEC. The fireballer’s 33 total touchdowns (24 passing, nine rushing) ranked fourth in the conference.

On the flip side, Levis tossed a conference-leading 13 interceptions. There were only three games in 2021 where Levis failed to turn the ball over, showing that his style of play can be reckless.

QB Scouting Notes for 4 Key 2021 Games:

•vs. Missouri (9/11/21)

Stat line:

10-of-18, 179 pass yards, 1 TD, 1 INT

25 rush yards, 1 TD


-Got through progressions quickly on the opening drive TD pass to Chris Rodriguez.

-Levis used agility to shake a defender and athleticism to fly across the first down marker on an impressive scramble.

-Strong footwork in the pocket early on. Keeps a wide base and is not scared to step up and fire.

-Threw WAY behind his receiver on the interception. Easy crosser was nowhere close; the deflection landed in Mizzou’s hands.

-Levis’ best throw of the game came soon after, as he hit Wan’Dale Robinson in stride on a deep crosser downfield. He stepped into the throw and displayed great touch.

-A QB keeper for the touchdown to cap the drive showed off some more athleticism.

-Multiple runs for the first down. Levis gives Josh Allen vibes when scrambling; not always a good thing, because he takes more shots than needed.

-Can be guilty of holding the ball too long when trying to make something out of nothing.

-Offensive line did not do him many favors in pass protection, but Levis handled it well.

-NFL arm strength in droves. Levis’ zip on out routes is as good as any in the country.

•@ Georgia (10/16/21)

Stat line:

32-of-42, 192 pass yards, 2 TDs

12 rush yards


-A QB sneak for the first down against the UGA defense shows how fearless Will Levis is.

-Levis certainly felt the pressure when dropping back, but all things considered, he did very well maneuvering traffic in the pocket.

-Three drops by his pass catchers in the first half hurt the momentum.

-Levis got obliterated midway through the second quarter by Jalen Carter, nearly resulting in a turnover. Not the QBs’ fault.

-Levis rebounded from the near turnover, completing his next five passes and ending the drive with a TD.

-Jalen Carter feasted on the Kentucky Wildcats’ offensive line. My goodness.

-The best throw of my entire evaluation came with 3:39 in the 3rd. Levis sold the PA, rolled out to his left, centered his shoulders, and whizzed a pass between three defenders right into the chest of his WR. Chefs kiss.

-Footwork is pretty choppy later on in the game. He has “happy feet” a majority of dropbacks in the 4th, but this is in part because the Bulldogs knew Levis had to pass.

-Never looked overmatched; he belonged on that field with all the NFL talent featuring multiple first round NFL Draft picks. No INTs to speak of!

-A lot of quick hitters by design. Liam Coen wanted to keep his QB and o-line from getting beat up; Levis did what he could.

•@ Mississippi State (10/30/21)

Stat line:

17-of-28, 150 pass yards, 1 TD, 3 INTs

9 rush yards


-Ball placement is incredibly spotty in the first half. One of his interceptions can be chalked up to this, as he led the wide receiver too far downfield & allowed the safety to have a play.

-Levis’ footwork in the pocket is consistent, but he is still susceptible to “happy feet” when pressured.

-2nd interception came in the red zone at the end of the half and was inexcusable. Levis forced a pass into double coverage, costing his team at least three points.

-The final interception was a great play by the defender, but Levis never accounted for the defensive lineman dropping back into coverage; the Kentucky QB threw it right to him.

-The Wildcats only had four possessions in the second half, resulting in the following: fumble, interception, touchdown, and punt.

-The good news is, Levis flexed NFL arm strength again. He has the velocity to fit tight windows with ease.

-Levis’ footwork improved as he settled in. His short, compact throwing motion allows for a quick delivery.

-Timing routes were pristine on the few drives he had in the second half, including the touchdown toss to DeMarcus Harris.

•vs. Tennessee (11/06/21)

Stat line:

31-of-49, 372 pass yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT

47 rushing yards, 2 TDs


-Picture perfect form in the pocket. Levis stands tall, keeps a wide base, and stays very quiet with his footwork.

-Levis goes through his progressions in textbook fashion the entire 1st half.

-My favorite throw of the game came early in the second quarter when Levis hit Wan’Dale Robinson on a 30+ yard fade. A dart.

-Incredible arm strength displayed on throws to the far side of the field and downfield.

-Levis took a PA Rollout from 8 yards out and scored a touchdown with his feet. He got out in space — all 6-foot-3, 225 pounds of him — and went hurling in the end zone over two defenders.

-The very next drive, Levis hurdled another defender. This man is ELECTRIC to watch.

-Levis’ lone INT resulted in six points for the Volunteers midway through the 3rd. The route got jumped because he misread defense.

-Finished a few throws over the middle while getting hit, improving under pressure.

-Perhaps the best part of this game is Levis showing a willingness to take what the defense is giving him without forcing anything.

Some Big Changes for Will Levis and the Kentucky Wildcats Following Departure of Liam Coen

Will Levis lost his top wide receiver following the 2021 season. The New York Giants selected Wan’Dale Robinson in the second round of the 2022 NFL Draft. The Kentucky field general also lost his play caller, as Liam Coen returned to the Los Angeles Rams to assume the role of offensive coordinator under Sean McVay.

Wildcats head coach Mark Stoops, with aid from the departing Coen, found a perfect successor at offensive coordinator. The program brought in another guy with NFL experience, former Niners quarterback coach and Broncos offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello.

Scangarello brought some new wrinkles to the already established pro-style system that Coen put in place in 2021. The new offensive coordinator in Lexington inherited a budding superstar in Will Levis and has made the most of it thus far in 2022.

The Kentucky Wildcats stormed to a 4-0 start to their season. The first three games were blowouts, including a week two trip to the Swamp against fellow NFL Draft prospect, QB Anthony Richardson. Levis threw four interceptions in this span, but he completed 66% of his passes and suffered bad luck on a couple of those.

In the past two weeks, Levis has combined for 523 passing yards, and six touchdown tosses and did not turn the ball over a single time. He torched Northern Illinois in week four, but unfortunately, the team suffered its first loss at the hands of SEC-rival Ole Miss.

Levis did all he could to lead a comeback but the Wildcats were outmatched. To the Rebels’ credit, they did a great job keeping the ball out of Levis’ hands all afternoon.

Kentucky will host Mississippi State and travel to Knoxville to take on Tennessee in the next few weeks. They also host the defending National Champions, Kirby Smart’s Georgia Bulldogs in the middle of November. These will be pivotal matchups for not only the team but for their NFL Draft hopeful at quarterback.

How does Will Levis look compared to the tape he put up last year and how has if helped his chances of going No. 1 overall in the 2023 NFL Draft?

QB Scouting Notes for 3 Key 2022 Games:

•@ Florida (9/10/22)

Stat line:

13-of-24, 202 pass yards, 1 TD, 1 INT

1 rushing TD


-Will Levis faced constant pressure as the Florida defensive line wreaked havoc, spearheaded by 2023 NFL Draft prospect Gervon Dexter.

-Ball placement leaves much to be desired on a throw-by-throw basis.

-Levis hit a pretty rollout to his left side, slinging the ball across his body with ease.

-The QB had a strong showing on timing routes, hitting his WR clean out of breaks.

-Footwork is inconsistent. His typically strong base is all over the place. Rather than staying wide, his heels click more than Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz.

-Levis’ only TD pass of the night came on a beautiful 55-yard jump ball to true freshman Dane Key. (Get used to hearing that name for the 2025 NFL Draft).

-Most of his incompletions on the night were calculated; Levis took care of the ball despite the one INT, which was a flukey play that saw the ball deflected and landing in Gervon Dexter’s awaiting hands.

-The rushing touchdown came on a QB sneak.

-A play in the third that ultimately resulted in an incompletion highlights why NFL Draft pundits are excited about Will Levis’ improvisation skills.

•vs. Northern Illinois (9/24/22)

Stat line:

18-of-26, 303 pass yards, 4 TDs


-The final score is misleading; Will Levis’ Wildcats dominated this football game.

-Levis stays under composure when a free rusher wrecks the pocket; he sidestepped the pressure and found his check down.

-Footwork is exceptional. Throws from inside the pocket come out clean. Even when Levis is forced off his spot, he stays consistent with his base.

-A few misses on balls that you’d like to see him complete. Getting lazy with his bottom half can result in these inconsistent stretches.

-Timing on screen passes is legendary, the best of the 2023 NFL Draft class in this regard.

-Uses a phenomenal head fake to free up his receiver; Levis hit Tayvion Robinson on a nice pass that the WR took 69 yards to the crib.

-His progressions are quicker and look more natural in 2022. He surveys the field so well.

-Still some iffy ball placement, but overall does a much better job taking care of his WRs.

-A chunk of Levis’ 303 passing yards came after the catch, but to the QBs credit, he put it right where it needed to be.

•@ Ole Miss (10/01/22)

Stat line:

18-of-24, 220 pass yards, 2 TDs


-The first drive, Will Levis misses a wide-open WR ~50 yards downfield. Hurt to see.

-Footwork is on point yet again. Levis still has sloppy spurts but has cleaned it up.

-The Kentucky QB looks more comfortable stepping up into the pocket. Mixes in some shoulder dips to evade pressure.

-Levis is proficient at setting up and selling the screen game.

-Levis locked into his first read more than usual in the 2nd half. This did not lead to an INT, but a handful of passes were INT-worthy.

-Instead of taking a sack and living to fight another day, Levis put the ball in harm’s way a few times. It is admirable that he tries to do so much, but sometimes less is more.

-Levis hit his WR in the breadbasket on a 3rd & 5 with 5:36 left in the 4th. The slant was brilliantly timed and featured some high RPMs.

-A costly fumble a couple of minutes later led to a turnover for the Ole Miss defense.

-Levis led his team down the field, and if not for the play being blown dead, would have had a game-winning touchdown to true freshman Dane Key in the end zone.

-On what would be the final snap for the Kentucky offense, Ole Miss strip-sacked Will Levis after the Wildcat QB took too long looking for an open receiver. He did not feel the oncoming pressure.

2023 NFL Draft Final Thoughts: Will Levis, QB, Kentucky


•Excellent build for a No. 1 overall NFL Draft pick at quarterback.

•Sells the play action well and gets his head turned back towards the field immediately.

•Levis does well disguising his intentions as he drops back, rarely getting eye locked.

•Short, compact throwing motion results in a quick delivery. Great arm strength (velocity & distance).

•Advanced understanding of his scheme; lining up under center, selling play fakes, and using pre-snap motion to identify the defense.

•Picturesque footwork on a majority of his dropbacks. A consistently wide base and keeps his feet quiet.

•For a guy with as many interceptions as he has, Levis is not necessarily a poor decision-maker overall.

•Not a world-class athlete but is a threat as a runner. Levis can barrel through the offensive line or make defenders miss in space when he rollouts.

•Willingness to pick up the first down in any way possible (not always a good thing).

•Intensity that you want from a leader; infectious energy; teammates love him.


•Will Levis tends to trust his arm too much. I mean, I probably would too if I had a bazooka of a right arm like him. However, the hero ball stuff creates turnovers.

•Timing is still an issue on most of his misses. Receivers break open but Levis either misses them outright or makes a catch tougher than it needs to be.

•A “love him or hate him” kind of personality. Levis won’t be for everyone during the NFL Draft process, especially some older, more traditional coaches in the NFL.

•Poor ball placement and lack of touch on throws are my biggest red flags. Levis, like many young QBs with strong arms, must learn how to use it properly.

•Will Levis will be 24 years old as a rookie. While this doesn’t knock him off NFL draft boards, it is something to consider.