Do Will Levis Comps to Ryan Tannehill, Jay Cutler, and Josh Allen Make Sense?

Will Levis comps haven't been as far-reaching as some of the other top QBs, and for good reason. He fits into a mold, and that mold is a top-10 pick.

The trajectory of quarterback narratives in the NFL Draft often looks like the stock chart of cryptocurrency. It can be a complete roller coaster. No quarterback in the 2023 NFL Draft class knows that better than the psychopath that puts mayonnaise in his coffee, Kentucky’s Will Levis. Even as a joke, why would we waste a perfectly good cup of Joe? For TikTok? For shame!

On a serious note, nobody has a more polarizing narrative than Levis, and there’s a 5-foot-10 QB who might be the top pick! Levis is seen by some as the next Josh Allen, while others believe he’s Jake Locker reincarnate. The reality is Levis is not the top QB prospect, but he’s not nearly as poor a prospect as some make him out to be. But as with everything these days, nuance is often lost in No-Man’s Land between two radically different ideas.

Will Levis NFL Comps

The only thing more polarizing than Levis are player comps. Many are so flawed that analysts far and wide have begun avoiding them at all costs. However, when a good comp does arrive, it can describe a player’s talent and style in just two words, so the exercise is incredibly popular.

We don’t do player comps in the PFN Mock Draft Simulator, but that’s unimportant. What is important is that you can now trade picks and some players in your mission to improve the roster of the team you choose.

Levis comps aren’t all that wide-ranging. Insert a big, semi-to-very athletic white QB with a big arm, and you’re almost there no matter what name you end up with. But all of the comps for Levis fall short in one way or another. There is one that rises to the top, although it needs a caveat to do so.

Ryan Tannehill

Aside from one glaring difference, Ryan Tannehill is an outstanding comp for Levis. We’ll get the one difference out of the way immediately, as it’s clear for anyone with two working eyes that Levis has a far more gifted arm than Tannehill. I’d also contest that he’s more functionally athletic and physical as a runner, but that’s partially why Levis played 2022 so banged up at Kentucky.

But the rest is eerily similar. Tannehill is at his very best in a heavy play-action offense that likes to utilize crossers to sneak behind linebackers while taking the occasional deep shot. And although you wouldn’t mistake Tannehill for a West Coast quick-game passer, he excels at finding windows in the middle of the field while running the quick game.

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That is nearly a spitting image of Levis. The mechanical issues in Levis’ lower body while in the pocket disappear when he’s able to move freely off play-action. Those issues can often make him scattershot outside of the numbers, but he plays well over the middle.

Tannehill was also a two-year starter in the SEC, and there’s a chance Levis can follow in his footsteps of being the third QB drafted from his class. Tannehill’s class of quarterbacks included Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III.

There’s also the possibility that the Tennessee Titans draft Levis. That roster certainly needs retooling, but as long as Mike Vrabel is leading Tennessee, they’re likely going to take the Patriots approach of zigging while everyone else is zagging, so the offensive structure will likely remain similar.

Josh Allen

There are certainly similarities between Josh Allen and Levis. They’re both big-bodied quarterbacks who are uber-physical as runners and, at times, can resemble a smooth-bore cannon as passers. Allen has a massive arm, and Levis generates insane velocity with his torqued-up midsection and releases the ball in a flash.

But Allen was only 21 when he was drafted. Levis is already 23 and will be 24 this June. From a developmental perspective, that matters a whole lot. Everybody grows and matures at a different rate, but the person I was at 21 compared to 24 was completely different. Since Levis is a project, you’re potentially looking at him hitting his stride at 27 instead of 24, which again, matters.

Do Will Levis Comps to Ryan Tannehill, Jay Cutler, and Josh Allen Make Sense?
Oct 16, 2022; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) on the line of scrimmage against the Kansas City Chiefs during the game at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Although Levis is undeniably athletic, he doesn’t show the same kind of creativity Allen possesses as a passer. Where Allen creates, Levis is more of a structured passer. In essence, he’s a pocket passer with the athleticism to make plays on the ground with his legs, but he’s not particularly a creator type by nature.

That’s not meant in a derogatory way. It could actually serve Levis’ longevity because taking constant shots didn’t necessarily help his draft stock in 2022, as a bad offensive line led to constant pounding and mounting minor injuries.

And though the scattershot accuracy is a similarity, Allen didn’t possess the kinds of judgment lapses that Levis displayed consistently on tape. A few decisions in most games would be enough to cock someone’s head sideways slightly. That leads us to our next comp.

Jay Cutler

If one squints really, really hard, maybe Levis becomes Allen from a production perspective. The clean version of his progression looks like Tannehill. There’s a chance he ends up like Drew Lock, but the toughness Levis displayed in 2022 gives me hope he’ll at least represent a serviceable starter for some period of time in the NFL. But his ugly progression looks like Jay Cutler.

That means he cleans things up in his lower half, becomes more accurate, but it never really clicks from a risk-management perspective. It also means he leads the league a few times in turnovers but makes big enough plays to avoid moving on from.

A season ago, Allen led the league in turnovers, but the positives clearly still outweighed the negatives. However, that line was much foggier with Cutler.

Where this comp falls short is in the mental makeup as a competitor and leader. Former NFL wide receiver Devin Hester summed up his time with Cutler.

“As a quarterback, like, I’d tell him to his face today that, to me, my years in the NFL — I played 11 years,” Hester told The Untold Stories podcast. “He’s the best quarterback when it comes to accuracy, power, knowledge of the game. The best quarterback, hands down, I ever played with. Now, when it comes to leadership, the worst.”

The way Levis played through injury in 2022 shows us everything we need to know about his makeup as a leader and competitor. Not everyone leads vocally, although this isn’t to say Levis doesn’t do that, either. Yet, he absolutely led by example this season. Despite it affecting Levis’ on-field performance, it showed teams it could have been an even better season had he remained healthy.

“Because I’ve got a cannon, and I’m gonna show it off.” That was Levis’s response when asked why he was throwing at the NFL Combine.

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