Player: Will Levis, Kentucky
As at the Combine, Levis put his personality and power on display. His almost-violent arm action walked his talk of having a “cannon,” which was on display thanks to his usual, revealing, tank top shirt. That, along with his size and athleticism, is certain to crank out even more comparisons with Josh Allen, whose athletic promise when coming into the league was also offset by questions around touch, accuracy, and mechanics. Dropped rocket balls and a few late or underthrown passes at his Pro Day balanced out a few eye-popping favorable moments. As he did the Combine, Levis Pro Day, with no meaningful pressure in his face, failed to address concerns about the questionable footwork, especially when he failed to step toward passes to the left. All in all, his Pro Day confirms Levis as a tantalizing, high-ceiling prospect who must be coached up at the next level.
Levis again did not run a 40 at his Pro Day. NFLDraftScout.com projects him to run a 4.7. Levis met with both the Raiders and Panthers the night before his Pro Day. Interestingly, it was reported that top execs of the Indianapolis Colts, who hold the No. 4 pick, were not at Levis’ Pro Day, although they scheduled a visit for him at their headquarters.
Levis showed himself as a big-bodied (6-4, 229), athletic QB with an excellent arm. He recorded a vertical jump of 34 inches and a broad jump of 10 feet, four inches, but he did not run the 40. In passing drills, Levis threw with intent, exhibiting the hair-trigger release and velocity that served him well on deep and intermediate balls, less so on shorter passes that almost put his receivers on the defensive. Levis’ disposition in Indy reflected that same forcefulness: whether his “humble cockiness” translates into a follow-me-to-the-promised-land leadership or a series of WTF hard-headed throws that cost his team will be worth watching as his career develops.
Summary: Levis, who finished his career at Kentucky after graduating in three years at Penn State, is one of the more physically gifted quarterbacks in this draft and has size/arm-strength of a classic pro-style quarterback. He is reminiscent of Josh Allen when scrambling and can be a weapon on designed runs. Levis will begin his NFL career at the age of 24, which may be a concern because he still has some learning to do. He tends to be conservative and misses big plays downfield. His footwork needs improvement, and he overthrows more passes than he should. Levis was better in 2021 than in 2022 when he not only dealt with turf toe but lost his offensive coordinator and his top wide receiver, Wan’Dale Robinson. Levis has college experience in a pro-style attack that asked him to read the entire field. If he cleans up his mechanics and gets a feel for pressure, Levis can be a positive factor who throws (literally) fear into defenses with his big arm.
Levis has high upside as a big, mobile QB with a rocket arm but will need to develop his decision-making, accuracy and mechanics to prove that his 2022 season was an outlier. Expect Levis to be taken within the first 10 picks with an outside chance to go as high as No. 1, according to some whispers at the Combine. The best-case player comp is Josh Allen; a middle-case scenario is Jay Cutler. If things don’t work out, he could be like Drew Lock or a bad Carson Wentz. Probably not an immediate starter but could be a good backup who provides the occasional dynamic play.
College: A true student athlete, Levis received offers from Ivy League schools such as Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Columbia before picking Penn State. After redshirting in 2018, Levis spent the next two seasons with the Nittany Lions, backing up Sean Clifford, getting only one start. He graduated in three years with a business degree then transferred to Kentucky. In his first season, Levis passed for 2,836 yards with 24 touchdowns against 13 INTs as the Wildcats went 10-3, only their second 10-win season since 1978. Levis regressed in 2022 while playing injured under new offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello. The 2022 team went from averaging 32 points per game the previous season to only 20 and finished 7-4. (Note: the Wildcats offense averaged 22.1 points per game under Scangarello, who was dismissed before Kentucky’s final game, a 21-0 nothing loss to Iowa in the Music City Bowl.)
Before College: Levis comes from an athletic family. His father played D3 football at Denison and his mother was a star soccer player at Yale. Levis went to Xavier High School, a private Catholic school in Connecticut. He didn’t receive much hype until he starred at Nike’s “The Opening'' camp in New Jersey. There he posted a SPARQ score of 123.27, best in the nation. Levis received offers to go to Ole Miss, North Carolina, Iowa and Florida State but decided to commit to Penn State because of their “fit socially, academically and, of course, athletically.” He was a gifted student and a devout, practicing Christian who took a mission to Guatemala during his senior year of high school. Has “2 Chronicles 15:7” tattooed on his arm. Active in charity work. Used Cameo to raise money for flood victims in Eastern Kentucky. Signed autographs to raise money for tornado victims in Western Kentucky. Volunteered with Special Olympics and Amachi, an organization that helps children affected by incarceration.
Three-year letterman for head coach Andy Guyon at Xavier High School in his hometown of Middletown, Connecticut … As a senior captain, earned Second-Team Walter Camp All-Connecticut honors … Selected to the Connecticut High School Coaches Association (CHSCA) Top 25 list\ after breaking Xavier’s records for passing yards (2,793), passing touchdowns (27) and completions in a season … Named the Hartford Courant’s Offensive POY … All-Courant First-Team selection … Earned All-Southern Connecticut Conference (SCC) Tier 1 accolades … SPARQ MVP for The Opening Elite 11 event in New Jersey in 2017 … Registered 1,972 passing yards with 19 passing touchdowns and six rushing touchdowns as a junior … Carried a 4.0 grade-point average during his prep career, winning the Brother Celestine Academic Award … Also chosen as an All-SCC Tier 1 academic athlete in 2017… Member of the National Honor Society and was a Ryken Scholar … Three-star recruit by all three major recruiting outlets – 247Sports, ESPN and Rivals. …Ranked as the No. 2 player in Connecticut and No. 24 pro-style quarterback by 247Sports, was the No. 35 pro-style quarterback, No. 2 recruit in Connecticut and No. 61 prospect in the region by ESPN and the No. 30 pro-style quarterback and No. 2 player in Connecticut by Rivals … Also lettered in baseball at Xavier.
Strengths: Levis has a sturdy frame, measuring 6-3, 229 at the Combine. This will help survive NFL-level hits. He throws the ball with great velocity but can also can loft it with good touch. Looks comfortable when rolling out, both to his left and right, and makes strong throws on the move. Levis shows the rare ability to complete throws even when he can’t set his feet. He made throws in the grasp of defenders that only a few QBs could manage. His release is quick, smooth, and naturally powerful. Has great confidence in his ability to throw the ball into tight windows and has shown the ability to thread the needle on intermediate passes. Has experience with two coordinators who come from the Shanahan/McVay coaching tree, so he has experience operating in an NFL-style offense. Great intangibles. Was on the Academic Honor Roll every year and was named Academic All-America Division I Team Member of the year. Is also active with charities and the Special Olympics.
Weaknesses: Too often shows bouncy feet in the pocket. Makes a lot of unnecessary steps and movements. He misses high too often, which can be dangerous both for receivers and for his interception stat. Despite his great size and mobility, Levis struggles to break free of sacks. As a decision-maker, he plays conservatively. Seems a bit slow reading coverages, although he does read the width of the field. Coming into the NFL at the age of 24 suggests he may have less room to grow. And, FWIW, has put Mayonnaise in his coffee, which he claims he did only once, and eats bananas, skin and all.
FRANKLY: Despite his dimensions and braggadocios manner, there are questions about Levis' toughness. Otherwise, there is a lot to like. Mature in every sense with enormous upside thanks to that rocket launcher of an arm and a quick, tight release. His college career was a roller coaster, but he delivered when healthy and given a chance. On the high side, he could become the finishing touch for some QB-needy NFL team; could be the player that we thought Carson Wentz was going to be. Or he could be the second coming of Wentz. Somebody will take a chance in the top ten.
HISTORY -- From College profile
Summary: Finished career with a 17-7 record as a starter at UK, tying Terry Wilson for the second-most quarterback wins since 1993 (starting lineups available since 1993) … Voted a two-time team captain and was a two-year letterwinner at UK … Totaled 43 career touchdowns passes, fifth on UK’s career list … Accounted for 54 total touchdowns at UK (43 passing and 11 rushing) … Totaled 5,233 passing yards at Kentucky, sixth on the program’s all-time list … Had six 300-yard passing games at UK, fourth-most in school history … Had three games at UK with four touchdown passes: Northern Illinois, Louisiana-Monroe and New Mexico State … Completed 479-of-738 passes for 5,877 yards and 46 total touchdowns with just 25 interceptions in the combined four years at Penn State and Kentucky. …In two seasons at Kentucky, completed 418-of-636 passes for 5,233 yards and 43 passing TDs with 23 interceptions for 65.7 percent. … Totaled 312 rushes for 742 yards and 17 scores overall, including 179 rushes for 269 yards and 11 rushing TDs at UK … Graduated in May of 2021 from Penn State’s Smeal College of Business in three years with a degree in finance. …Graduated in December 2022 with a master’s degree in finance from UK’s Gatton School of Business and Economics … Named to SEC First-Year Academic Honor Roll in 2021 … Named to SEC Fall Academic Honor Roll in 2022.
2022 — Senior (Kentucky)
College Sports Communicators Academic All-America Division I Football Team Member of the Year … Named to SEC Fall Academic Honor Roll. …Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Top 10 … Davey O’Brien QB Class of 2022 … Manning Award Watch List … Maxwell Trophy Watch List … Walter Camp Player of the Year Watch List … CFPA National Performer of the Year Watch List … Reese’s Senior Bowl Watch List … Elected one of seven team captains … Completed 185-of-283 passes for 2,406 yards and 19 scores with 10 interceptions … Ranked fourth in the SEC and 27th nationally in passer efficiency (151.9) … Ranked fourth in the SEC and 23rd nationally in passing yards per attempt (8.50) … Ranked fifth in the SEC in passing TDs (19) … Completed 21-of-32 passes for 303 yards and three touchdowns in the season opener vs. Miami (Ohio), which marked his fourth 300-yard game as a Wildcat and his fifth game with at least three TD tosses … Became the 15th UK quarterback to throw for at least 3,000 yards … Second quarterback in UK history (Tim Couch in 1997-98) with 300-yard passing games in consecutive season openers … Helped lead Kentucky to a come-from-behind 26-16 victory at No. 12/19 Florida, completing 13-of-24 passes for 202 yards and one touchdown while also rushing for a TD … Began UK’s scoring by hitting freshman Dane Key with a 55-yard bomb for a touchdown … Trailing 16-7 in the second quarter, began UK’s comeback by fighting through the defense for a quarterback-sneak touchdown … Led a pair of field-goal drives in the second half to help secure the victory.
Completed 27-of-35 passes (77 percent) for a season-high 377 yards, the second-most in his career, and two touchdowns in a win over Youngstown State … His completion percentage was his best single-game performance (with at least 20 pass attempts) and the highest completion percentage for a Wildcat in one game (min. 35 pass attempts) since Dusty Bonner hit 34 of 40 (85 percent) in 1999 … Marked Levis’ fifth 300-plus yard passing game in his career and his second this season. Also rushed for seven yards on nine carries and a touchdown vs. Youngstown … Became just the third QB in school history with at least four games of 365-plus passing yards, also Tim Couch and Jared Lorenzen … Completed 18-of-26 passes for 303 yards and four touchdowns in the win over Northern Illinois … First Kentucky QB with at least three passing TDs of 40 or more yards in the same game since Drew Barker against Southern Mississippi in 2016 …After throwing for 377 yards against Youngstown State, became the first UK quarterback with back-to-back 300-yard passing games since Patrick Towles vs. Eastern Kentucky and Auburn in 2015 … Third QB in Kentucky history (Bill Ransdell and Stephen Johnson) to have at least two 300-yard passing games that featured fewer than 20 completions … Completed 13-of-19 passes for 170 yards and all three Kentucky touchdowns in the Wildcats’ 21-17 come-from-behind win at Missouri … Trailing 17-14 with 8:04 to go, Levis led Kentucky on a 58-yard game-winning touchdown drive … Completed 3-of-3 for 51 yards on the winning march, including the 22-yard TD on a 3rd-and-11 play … Completed 11 of his 19 passes for 188 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions in the win over Louisville, becoming the third starting quarterback to defeat Louisville in back-to-back games, joining Tim Couch (2-0) and Mike Hartline (3-0) … Preseason Third-Team All-SEC (Media Days) … Preseason Third-Team All-SEC (Coaches) … Preseason Third-Team All-SEC (Media)
2021 — Junior (Kentucky)
Elected one of eight team captains … Davey O’Brien QB Class of 2021 … Two-time FBS National Offensive Player of the Week (LSU, Louisville) … Two-time College Football Performance Awards National Performer of the Week honorable mention (LSU, Louisville) … Two-time Manning Award Quarterback of the Week (ULM, Louisville) … Named the Walter Camp Connecticut Player of the Year … 2020-21 First-Year SEC Academic Honor Roll … Started in all 13 games and helped lead UK to 10 wins for the fourth time in school history (1950, 1977 and 2018) … Also the first time since 1949-52 that UK had at least eight victories in a season (including bowl games) three times within a four-year span … Totaled 3,202 yards of total offense, the seventh player in school history to reach the 3,000-yard milestone in a season. …Completed 233-of-353 passes for 2,827 yards (66.0) and 24 touchdown passes, the most since Andre’ Woodson had 40 in 2007 … Totaled 107 rushes for 376 yards and a team-high-tying nine rushing touchdowns, which was ninth in the SEC overall … Ranked in the top 10 in several statistical categories in the SEC, including fourth in total TDs (33), fifth in pass completions (233), sixth in total plays (460), total yards (3,203), total passing yards (2,827), pass attempts (353) and passing TDs (24), eighth in the SEC in passing average per game (217.46) … Twice (vs. LSU and Tennessee) had three passing touchdowns and two rushing TDs in the same game, the only Wildcat ever to do so … First UK quarterback since Mike Hartline in 2010 with at least 30 completions against two SEC opponents (Georgia and Tennessee) in the same season … Completed 17-of-28 for 233 yards and one touchdown in leading UK to a 20-17 win over Iowa in the Vrbo Citrus Bowl, the Wildcats’ school-record fourth straight bowl win … Received The Manning Award Quarterback of the Week, the Howard Schnellenberger Award as the Most Valuable Player of the Governor’s Cup game vs. Louisville, and was named College Football Performance Awards National Performer of the Week honorable mention for the second time after completing 14-of-18 passes for 149 yards (no touchdowns or interceptions), rushing 14 times for a career-high 113 yards and a career-best four touchdowns … The four rushing touchdowns tied the school record held now by 12 players and also tied the Governor’s Cup record set by Lynn Bowden, Jr. in 2019 … Completed 21-of-31 passes for a career-high 419 yards and four touchdowns, tying a career high, in the win over New Mexico State … His career-high 430 total yards included 11 net yards rushing … 419 passing yards is the 12th-highest single-game total in school history … Became the first 400-yard passer since Andre’ Woodson threw for 430 vs. Tennessee in 2007 … His 79-yard pass to Wan’Dale Robinson was the longest of his career and longest for UK since an 83-yard pass from Patrick Towles to Javess Blue vs. ULM in 2014 … First UK quarterback with three 350-yard passing games in one season since Patrick Towles in 2014 … Among Kentucky QBs with at least 20 completions in a game, his 19.95 yards per completion is the highest single-game mark in school history … Accounted for 419 yards total offense and five touchdowns vs. Tennessee. …Rushed 15 times for a net 47 yards and two TDs … Completed 31-of-49 passes for a career-high 372 yards and three touchdowns … Marked the most passing yards for a Wildcat since Patrick Towles threw for 390 yards vs. Mississippi State in 2014 … Most yards total offense since Towles had 466 (390 passing, 76 rushing) vs. Mississippi State in 2014 … First Wildcat to have at least 15 passing touchdowns and five rushing TDs in one season since Jared Lorenzen in 2003 … Completed 32-of-42 passes for 192 yards and two touchdowns at No. 1 Georgia … His 32 completions are the most for a UK quarterback against a No. 1-ranked opponent since Tim Couch (35) vs. Tennessee in 1998 … His 32 completions are the most for a UK quarterback in an SEC road game since Jared Lorenzen (32) at Georgia in 2001 … With starting lineups available since 1993, became the first quarterback since that time to win his first six starts. …Named the FBS National Offensive Player of the Week by the Walter Camp Football Foundation, named to the Davey O’Brien Award’s Great 8 list and earned College Football Performance Awards National Performer of the Week honorable mention after accounting for Kentucky’s first five touchdowns in the Wildcats’ 42-21 win over LSU … Completed 14-of-17 passes (82.4 percent) for 145 yards and three TDs … Rushed 11 times for a net 75 yards and two TDs … Had a 33-yard run that helped set up his own QB sneak for a score … Led UK to 42 points, most ever for the Wildcats against LSU in a regulation-length game … Completed 18-of-26 passes for 367 yards and four touchdowns in the season opener vs. ULM, notching career highs for completions, yards and TDs in his first career start at Kentucky … Recorded the most passing yards for a Kentucky player in his first game as a Wildcat and the most passing yards for a UK quarterback since Patrick Towles threw for 390 in 2014 vs. Mississippi State … UK’s first 300-yard passer in a season opener since Drew Barker threw for 323 yards vs. Southern Mississippi in 2016 … Most passing TDs since Barker threw four vs. Southern Mississippi in 2016 … Named the Manning Award Quarterback of the Week … Graduate transfer who played three seasons at Penn State … His 473 career rushing yards rank 10th all time by a Penn State quarterback … Two-time Academic All-Big Ten selection.
2020 – Sophomore (Penn State)
Played in eight games with one starting assignment … Completed 33-of-55 passes for 421 yards and a score … Had 82 rushes for 260 yards and three touchdowns … Completed 14-of-31 passes for a career-high 219 yards, including a 74-yard completion in his first start of the season vs. Iowa … At Michigan, he rushed for 25 yards on six carries and had a two-yard rushing TD, helping the Nittany Lions win 27-17.
2019 – r-Freshman (Penn State)
Appeared in seven games with one start … Completed 28-of-47 passes for 223 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions … Totaled 213 rushing yards on 51 carries with three scores … Earned the team’s High Academic Average (cumulative GPA), along with Penn State teammate Blake Gillikin.
2018 – Freshman (Penn State)