Two years ago, Will Levis was looking for a fresh start after transferring from Penn State to Kentucky. Now, following a successful run in Lexington, Levis is one of the top-three ranked quarterbacks in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Levis, Alabama's Bryce Young and Ohio State's C.J. Stroud (and possibly Florida's Anthony Richardson) are all projected to be first-round picks. Young is likely to be the first one off the board, but all of the top three are expected to be top-10 picks. Three of our CBS Sports NFL Draft analysts currently have Levis going to the Panthers, who have the No. 9 overall pick.
Levis' success at Kentucky has put him in that position. In 24 games with the Wildcats, Levis completed nearly 66 percent of his passes with 43 touchdowns and 23 interceptions. During his first year at Kentucky, Levis helped the Wildcats win 10 games that included a 20-18 win over Iowa in the Citrus Bowl.
At 6-3 and 222 pounds, Levis has the prototypical build of an NFL quarterback. He also has a cannon for a right arm that is surely one of the reasons why he is expected to be drafted so high (). Levis' other attributes include the fact that he ran versions of Sean McVay and Kyle Shanahan's offenses at Kentucky. A confident player who isn't afraid to take calculated risks downfield, Levis is also capable of taking off for big gains on the ground if given an opening.
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Like every prospect, Levis has some question marks. While confidence is typically a good trait for a quarterback to have, it at times has led to Levis committing costly turnovers (he had 25 interceptions and 17 fumbles during his college career). Mechanics and ball placement are other areas of Levis' game that could use further improvement.
Here's a look at the five best team fits for Levis ahead of the draft.
1. Carolina Panthers
Fortunately for Levis, the team he is best suited for is the team he's most often projected to be playing for this fall. After a 2-7 start, Carolina showed grit by going 5-3 down the stretch last season. They did so despite a coaching change and the trade of Christian McCaffrey to San Francisco.
Aside from the quarterback position, the Panthers are bringing back each member of their starting offense from a year ago. Carolina's offense includes an underrated offensive line, a young receiving corps that includes Terrace Marshall Jr. and DJ Moore, and running back Chuba Hubbard, who enjoyed a strong finish to the 2022 season following McCaffrey's departure. New Carolina head coach Frank Reich could be just the person to help Levis reach is potential.
Levis would be paired in Indianapolis with new Colts head coach Shane Steichen, who is fresh off of a successful run as the Eagles' offensive coordinator.
While not as talented overall as Carolina's offense, the Colts have several solid offensive pieces that include former league rushing champion Jonathan Taylor, five-time Pro Bowl guard Quenton Nelson, three-time Pro Bowl center Ryan Kelly and former 1,000-yard wideout Michael Pittman. The Colts are expected to add to their receiving corps during both free agency and the draft.
In the Big Apple, Levis would be supported by a defense that allowed the fourth-fewest points in the NFL last fall. He would also be flanked by a good group of young skill players, led by reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year Garrett Wilson. He'd be protected by a solid line that is slated to welcome back former first-round pick Mekhi Becton, who missed all of last year with an injury.
The Ravens would offer the best situation for Levis as they are coming off a 10-win season and playoff berth. But given the fact that Lamar Jackson is (as of this writing) still their quarterback, the Ravens are down at No. 4 on this list given the small odds of Levis actually landing in Baltimore.
Levis would be a solid option for Baltimore should it part with Jackson. While he's not the runner Jackson is (who is?), Levis is a threat on the ground. He would also take advantage of the talents of All-Pro tight end Mark Andrews, running back J.K. Dobbins and wideout Rashod Bateman. The Ravens are also slated to add to their receiving corps this offseason, which is good news for whoever is under center in Baltimore in 2023.
5. Las Vegas Raiders
Las Vegas is actually the third most likely landing spot -- but the fifth-best fit -- for Levis behind Carolina and Indianapolis. The Raiders have one of the best offensive trios in the league in Davante Adams, Darren Waller and Josh Jacobs (Jacobs is currently set to enter free agency, however).
Along with Jacobs, the Raiders have several other offensive starters -- including starting offensive linemen Jermaine Eluemunor and Alex Bars -- who are set to be free agents. Wideout Mack Hollins, who put up career numbers last year, is also slated to hit free agency. The uncertain futures of Jacobs and Co., along with the fact that Josh McDaniels has yet to prove himself as a head coach, are among the main reasons why the Raiders aren't higher on this list.