Will Levis, QB, Kentucky | NFL Draft Scouting Report

Kentucky QB Will Levis emerged in 2021, but questions remain on his 2023 NFL Draft scouting report. Does Levis have the tools to be a high-level NFL starter?

Will Levis, QB, Kentucky | NFL Draft Scouting Report

We know Will Levis is in the early first-round mix with his 2023 NFL Draft scouting report, but where along the pecking order does he sit? Since 2012, the first round of the NFL draft has averaged three quarterback selections. 2023’s number will likely exceed that, and Levis could be the one who pushes the class over the top.

Will Levis NFL Draft Profile

  • Position: Quarterback
  • School: Kentucky
  • Current Year: Redshirt Senior
  • Height/Weight: 6’4, 229 pounds
  • Length: 32″
  • Hand: 10 5/8″

Levis’ career track is different from that of most first-round QB prospects. The Kentucky QB was a 2018 recruit in the same class as Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields. Yet, 2021 was his first season as a starting signal-caller at the collegiate level.

While other quarterbacks found immediate stardom, Levis took the longer road to prominence. Levis was a 4.0 student at Xavier in Connecticut and had offers from a number of Ivy League schools, including Harvard, Princeton, Dartmouth, and Columbia. But Levis wanted to pursue a D1 football career and signed with Penn State instead.

Three years passed. Levis redshirted in 2018 and started two games total through 2019 and 2020. At the end of that stretch, Levis transferred to Kentucky. In Lexington, he finally emerged as a legitimate draft prospect.

Levis only carried 102 career attempts into the 2021 season, but he picked things up quickly. A team captain in his first year at Kentucky, Levis collected 2,826 yards, 24 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions in 13 starts. He also added 376 yards and nine scores on the ground.

Levis exited 2021 as a polarizing but exciting QB prospect, and 2022 only brought more of that sentiment.

Will Levis Scouting Report

Levis would be undrafted for his eating habits. He eats bananas with the peel on, and he puts mayonnaise in his coffee. But we’ll let all that slide because, on the field, Levis brings plenty of talent.


Levis has very exciting tools as a passer and a creator. The Kentucky QB stands at 6’4″, 229 pounds, with a strong, dense frame that can withstand contact. With his frame, Levis brings elite arm talent to the fold. He generates elite velocity on throws with visible ease and has a quick, crisp 3/4 sidearm release. His velocity carries well to all levels of the field and travels with immediacy in the short and intermediate ranges.

Levis has a supremely strong arm — strong enough to generate high levels of velocity even when off-platform and rolling against his dominant side. Beyond that, his arm is also noticeably elastic.

The Kentucky QB is very natural and comfortable throwing from different arm angles, and he generates high levels of velocity from various arm angles. Levis is able to throw with pace and accuracy off-platform and can correct incongruent mechanics with his arm talent.

Levis doesn’t just have high-end arm talent, either. He’s a legitimate athlete with potential 4.6 speed at his size. He shows great burst and speed in the open field and has enough agility to make single cuts.

The physical edge Levis plays with as a runner is even more enticing. For a QB, he breaks tackles with more consistency than expected. He plays strong in the pocket, churns his legs through tackle attempts, and frequently extends plays with his frame, play strength, and athleticism.

Levis didn’t run the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, but he did participate in explosiveness drills, where he came away with the second-best broad jump among 2023 QBs, behind only Anthony Richardson. Levis jumped 34″ in the vertical and 10’4″ in the broad. Both numbers exemplify the athleticism he possesses at his size.

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Levis’ arm talent is a central part of his game, but he’s also proficient at properly channeling that arm talent with strong mechanics. Levis consistently gets excellent hip rotation on his throws, which allows him to generate maximum velocity. He’s also able to stay in phase with his base, keep his feet active, and place his front foot properly for placement and rotation. Moreover, Levis continually keeps his shoulders level on release and level off-platform.

Not only does Levis have good mechanics, but he also actively manipulates his mechanics to influence ball placement. He adjusts his shoulder alignment situationally to manipulate the trajectory of his throws — a tendency that shows up most often on seam routes and boundary fades. On those throws, he mixes velocity and touch to arc the ball into small windows. In a similar vein, Levis has shown to lead WRs low in tight situations to minimize the threat of contact and disruption.

There are sometimes lapses with precision from Levis, which we’ll get to later. But overall, he’s underrated with his general accuracy. He consistently throws within the receiver’s wheelhouse and doesn’t often throw uncatchable balls. Levis is a reliable rhythm passer with snappy lower body mechanics off the snap and leads receivers for run-after-catch yards with great velocity in the short range. And over the middle of the field, he’s displayed the ability to lead into space, away from contact.

Will Levis
Sep 24, 2022; Lexington, Kentucky, USA; Kentucky Wildcats quarterback Will Levis (7) waits for a snap during the third quarter against the Northern Illinois Huskies at Kroger Field. Mandatory Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports

Processing and field vision are areas where Levis could improve. But even there, the Kentucky QB has shown glimpses of promise.

Levis flashes the ability to anticipate windows and go through progression work. He’s able to read defender spacing pre-snap and identify favorable matchups based on route concepts. Particularly on quick reads over the middle, Levis’ game translates well.

Levis can be relatively dependent on rhythm and timing throws, but he did go through high-to-low reads on occasion in 2021 and 2022, and he has the capacity to process and progress through options. In select situations, particularly against zone coverage, Levis displayed the wherewithal to wait ahead of his release to let overlapping route concepts play out and neutralize the threat of an underneath defender.

Levis’ work in the pocket can visibly improve, but he flashes the requisite toughness and pressure detection. The Kentucky QB has flashed the ability to detect penetrating rushers and step into lanes to avoid contact. He’s also shown he’s able to manage space in the pocket to buy himself more time, although he can be more consistent there.

While Levis can sometimes be skittish, there are awesome glimpses of poise in the pocket. Furthermore, Levis shows the steadiness to stand in as the pocket condenses. While consistency is still desired, he can step forward into tightening lanes and deliver throws amidst direct contact.

Among other things, Levis has the ability to keep his eyes forward on the dropback to hold safeties and use subtle bursts of eye manipulation to open up the field. Additionally, he’s willing to throw the ball away when plays collapse and nothing is there.

On the ground, Levis is a supremely tough competitor who fights to stay on his feet and gain extra yards. In both phases, there are definite clutch moments on tape. More than once in 2021, Levis delivered in late-down, high-distance situations, and there were promising moments of conversion as well in 2022.

Levis’ Areas for Improvement

Right now, the most pressing concern with Levis is his inconsistent field vision and anticipation. The Kentucky QB can do a better job anticipating overall. He often experiences slight but notable delays between his recognition and trigger as a passer.

His late trigger and lack of anticipation, combined with his inconsistent processing, gives defenders more time to close in, minimize RAC, or make plays on the ball. On layered throws over the middle and outside the numbers, Levis’ frozen eyes can lead defenders to undercut late throws.

Timing is a major issue on NFL throws with Levis, and his decision-making, in tandem, can improve as well. He sometimes locks onto receivers pre-snap and will prematurely commit to routes even when they’re covered up. He occasionally stares down his primary receiver, inviting defenders to close in early with his eyes, and he’ll look to force ill-advised throws with his arm.

Overall, Levis’ field vision is questionable. He sometimes misses open receivers and occasionally forces intermediate and deep throws with defenders looming. He’s effective off play-action and on timing throws with his fast, crip release, but Levis can accrue more experience with full-field reads and progressions.

As a thrower, Levis could be more precise. Particularly over the middle, he sometimes fails to lead receivers and forces high-difficulty adjustments in congested areas. He’s still learning to mix velocity and touch, and he sometimes puts too much heat and too little loft on passes. His release is fast but can sometimes be concave, pushing passes high as a result.

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Elsewhere, Levis’ pressure detection can fluctuate both ways. He can be spooked into prematurely dropping his eyes and running. Conversely, he occasionally has lapses in pressure detection and takes hard hits on the blindside. Levis can be rushed into making non-ideal decisions by pressure and occasionally fades back as he throws, eroding his mechanics.

Especially in 2022, Levis struggled with processing and navigation in the pocket, and it affected his overall process as a thrower. He has the toughness and size to stand in, but his internal clock can be slow, and threats of pressure will sometimes cause him to freeze.

Going further, Levis doesn’t often make the necessary positioning adjustments to buy time for himself, inviting sacks and turnover opportunities for the defense.

Overall, Levis could process pressure more quickly, and more effectively manage the pocket in response to said pressure. Lastly, while Levis’ toughness as a runner is appealing, he has room to better preserve himself on the ground. And while he has enough agility to sidestep rushers, he’s more of a linear athlete who lacks elite evasive twitch in tight spaces.

Current Draft Projection for Kentucky QB Will Levis

Levis is in the group of top-four QBs that will be selected in the first round. Of that group, however, he is comfortably my QB4.

C.J. Stroud, Richardson, and Bryce Young all have borderline top-10 grades in the class. Levis has a fringe top-50 grade on my scale, but his upside is ultimately what will elevate him into Round 1 as a prospect.

There’s always been a dichotomy between where Levis grades and where the NFL will take him. Levis ended his college career with questions still unanswered. He didn’t show the linear growth many hoped to see from him in 2022, and as a 24-year-old rookie, there will be questions about how far he can climb.

It’s important to note that Levis did deal with adversity at Kentucky. He was still surrounded by SEC talent, but he lost a good chunk of his offensive line and weapons in 2022. He also dealt with injuries throughout the year, as well as an offensive coordinator shift.

But those contextual factors don’t change what’s visible on tape: Levis still has a ways to go individually.

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Operationally, he does have strong qualities to boast. Levis brings crisp mechanics and a hyper-efficient release, and he’s also more accurate than given credit for — frequently giving his receivers a chance. His operational issues more often stem from inconsistent processing, field vision, and timing, a lack of anticipation, a subpar feel in the pocket, and forced decisions bred from operational mishaps.

In an offense that features heavy RPO and play-action reps, Levis’ strengths would be maximized, and he’d also be adequately eased in while he develops on the operational side. For all his inconsistencies, Levis is tough, he’s competitive, he has elite arm talent, and he’s a bull of a runner in space.

For a quarterback with his natural ability, Levis sometimes looks far too uncomfortable operating within the offense. He’ll take his lumps if he has to start early on but is better suited with a bridge QB. Nevertheless, when taking Levis’ potential for growth into account, his stable, unteachable traits remain exhilarating.

Levis is an athletic, resilient, and supremely talented passer, with solid mechanics and the high-end attributes to buoy a franchise-caliber ceiling. He’ll need time to hone the operational part of his game at the next level, but his upside is worth investing in for a team that has the resources to adequately support him, and the time to develop him at his pace.

Tony Pauline’s Scouting Report on Will Levis

Strengths: Athletic pocket passer with the size and form to lead a franchise at the next level. Patient in the pocket, buys time for receivers, and does an outstanding job commanding the offense. Possesses a quick release and easily gets rid of the ball with a flick of his wrist. Has a powerful arm and drives deep throws with speed.

Puts touch on throws when necessary. Sells ball fakes, knows where his receivers are on the field, and spreads the ball around. Easily gets the pass through the tight spots. Has great stature and easily withstands the rush. Punishing ball carrier on designed quarterback runs.

Weaknesses: Not averse to throwing the ball to covered targets or forcing throws. Very slow going to secondary targets. Doesn’t do a good job seeing the field or reading defenses. Indecisive, late delivering the ball and misses opportunities. Consistently stares down the primary target. Stiff and may be too big.

Overall: From a size, athleticism, and arm strength point of view, Levis could arguably be graded out as one of the top two quarterbacks in this year’s draft. Yet, there are many concerning fundamental red flags about his game.

Levis must improve his defensive reads, overall accuracy, and decision-making. He’s not nearly the NFL-ready QB many project him to be, and if he’s rushed into a starting lineup, the consequences could be bad. Levis needs to land with the right coach and be kept on the sidelines to absorb what’s happening on the field before lining up behind center on Sundays. He possesses tremendous upside potential, yet there is a lot of risk in his game.