Joe Burrow and Zach Wilson have created an expectation each offseason. Now, evaluators are constantly looking for quarterbacks who can follow that trajectory — from virtual unknown to virtually undeniable. These quarterbacks are always rare, but the 2022 NFL Draft may have one in Kentucky QB Will Levis, whose scouting report demands attention.
Will Levis NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Quarterback
- School: Kentucky
- Current Year: Redshirt Junior
- Height: 6’3″
- Weight: 232 pounds
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Will Levis Scouting Report
Off the field, Levis has many red flags. He still has pre-2012 Bieber fever. He eats bananas in a very unorthodox and unsettling way. But here at Pro Football Network, we’re willing to look past all that. Because on the field, his physical potential is bananas. Can he be a first-round pick? That’s a bit of a projection at this point, but as Bieber would say — never say never.
In the modern NFL, teams gravitate toward quarterbacks with top-end physical traits. In fact, it’s almost become a prerequisite for rising into the early rounds. While cerebral passers with less-than-elite traits still have utility, the quarterbacks with physical upside are the only ones that can truly elevate their team at the next level. And that’s what makes a rising prospect like Levis so enticing.
Will Levis’ physical profile
As mentioned above, Levis’ physical tools are elite, and they’re ultimately the source of his astronomical upside. Levis is a great athlete for his size. He has the lateral burst to evade rushers and create space in the pocket, and he can roll out and pick up yards off-script. Levis has some high-quality rushing reps on tape from his days at Penn State, including a Josh Allen-esque hurdle. He’s an exceptional mover with good density, and that combination affords him a lot of utility on the ground.
With his mobility, Levis is extremely natural on bootlegs and play-action rollouts. But beyond his athleticism, he has stellar arm talent. Levis has a supremely smooth, loose throwing motion, and he effortlessly generates excellent velocity. His arm is incredibly elastic. He can create velocity from multiple platforms, and his throws naturally carry a tight spiral.
Combined, Levis’ athleticism and arm talent amount to impressive potential, both in and out of structure. He can make nearly any throw in structure, but he also has the elasticity to roll out, manipulate windows, and fire the ball into tight pockets. He has a dangerous skill set as a passer from wherever he launches the ball.
Execution beyond the physical traits
While Levis’ career sample size is fairly limited, he’s shown impressive growth in a short span. When in rhythm, Levis has fairly good mechanics. He has natural footwork and hip rotation, and he also has great synergy with his upper and lower body as a passer.
More often than not, Levis shows great weight transfer heading into his throws. He steps up in structure, and he can drive the ball downfield without expending much effort. His velocity carries all the way into the deep range, where he has surprisingly consistent accuracy. The Kentucky QB’s deep passes have a great mix of pace and cushion, and he’s a fearless downfield passer. He takes shots when he sees them without hesitation.
Going further, Levis has flashed the ability to go through progressions even with hinted pressure. He flashes modest anticipation as well — he can identify small windows and target them with precision. The Kentucky QB triggers quickly when he identifies open receivers, and he can place the ball for yards after the catch in the middle of the field.
Among other things, Levis doesn’t take deception lightly, executing play fakes well. Additionally, he does some limited pre-snap work under center at times, although his workload here is minimal.
Areas for improvement
As good as Levis’ flashes have been — particularly in his first game with Kentucky against UL Monroe — he does have visible room for improvement, particularly against pressure.
Levis can do a better job navigating the pocket when he senses pressure. He can work himself into a corner at times, and he drops his eyes occasionally when he feels the rush closing in. Furthermore, his lower-body mechanics can be a bit clunky when he feels claustrophobic, leading to slight accuracy variances. He also doesn’t always respond well to free rushers outside of structure and can better utilize his athleticism to keep plays alive.
The Kentucky QB sometimes predetermines his throws and leads the ball into dangerous spots. He’ll also stare down targets on occasion, leaving receivers vulnerable to hits. He doesn’t always play to receiver leverage in the short range, and there are periodic instances where he throws behind players and fails to lead his passes for RAC yards. In a similar vein, Levis can do a better job manipulating trajectory outside the numbers.
Levis sometimes stays static in the pocket, failing to use his eyes to spread the defense. He can also better anticipate in-breaking routes. His arm strength allows him to make up lost time on late passes, but his timing for certain concepts can improve.
Will Levis NFL Draft scouting report overview
The most important thing to remember about Levis — as of this post-Week 1 writing — is he has only thrown 128 passes in his career thus far. Yes, he can show more consistency in responding to pressure, using anticipation and eye manipulation. But for a quarterback who has so little experience as a starter, seeing Levis dominate early on in 2021 is a promising sign.
Improvement in the operational realm should come gradually as Levis accrues more experience. There will be ups and downs — especially in the SEC — but that’s what Levis needs right now to reach his potential. If he follows that developmental track this year, he has the athleticism, arm talent, off-script ability, and natural accuracy to be an unexpected first-round pick.
Will Levis Player Profile
Levis’ football career has been one of the more exciting ones in recent college football history. That is unless you’re a Penn State fan — then it’s just depressing.
Levis originally committed to Penn State as a member of the 2018 recruiting class. Levis was only a three-star recruit, but a 4.8 40-yard dash and a 35.6-inch vertical earned him fans in the Power Five circle. Moreover, he recorded the highest power throw rating in the class.
Levis received offers from Iowa, North Carolina, and Florida State, as well as Ivy League schools like Harvard, Dartmouth, Princeton, and Yale. Ultimately, the Middletown, Connecticut native signed with the Penn State Nittany Lions.
Will Levis’ career at Penn State
Levis took a redshirt in his first season at Penn State and came back as a redshirt freshman in 2019. He saw some playing time, but it was mostly in reserve minutes, as redshirt sophomore Sean Clifford was the full-time starter. Levis only completed 28 of 47 attempts for 223 yards, 2 scores, and 2 picks.
In 2020, Clifford returned as the incumbent starter but regressed. Thus, he paved the way for Levis to see a bit more action. Still, Levis didn’t get a great deal of work. Starting one game and playing in eight, he completed 33 of 55 passes for 421 yards and a touchdown while logging 260 yards and 3 scores on the ground.
In three years, Levis graduated with an undergraduate degree in finance. After doing so, he decided to enter the transfer portal as a graduate transfer. In early February, Levis announced his transfer destination — the Kentucky Wildcats.
Will Levis’ impending NFL Draft ascension at Kentucky
At Kentucky, Levis is simultaneously pursuing a Master’s degree in finance and a spot in the 2022 NFL Draft. Kentucky gave Levis the opportunity he needed, and so far, it looks like he’s thriving. In Week 1 against the UL Monroe Warhawks, Levis completed 18 of 26 attempts for 367 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 1 interception. Several of his incompletions — including the interception — were on target and dropped.
If we compare Levis to other quarterbacks statistically, he is still in the infancy of his starting career. Thus, while there’s obvious room for improvement executing the offense, Levis’ early success is extremely exciting. He has a great offensive line and weapons at Kentucky — a situation conducive to QB comfort and success. If he can carry this strong performance through SEC play, he could truly be the Wilson or Burrow of the 2022 class.