It was surprising not to see Kentucky quarterback Will Levis off the board for the 2023 NFL Draft in Round 1 on Thursday, but it didn’t take long for a team to take him in the second round.
The Tennessee Titans negotiated a deal with the Arizona Cardinals to get Levis.
The Titans traded their No. 41 and No. 72 picks and a 2024 third-round pick for Levis’ No. 33 pick and No. 81.
The Titans reportedly tried to trade in the first round, but couldn’t find the right partner to do it with. The Titans selected offensive lineman Peter Skoronski 11th overall.
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One implication of Levis being drafted after the first round is that the Titans won’t have a fifth-year option on him. If Levis becomes a franchise type, the contract extension will come a year early.
Levis sat in the green room behind the scenes of the NFL Draft watching most of his teammates walk up to receive their jerseys on Thursday. ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. had Levis as the second-best quarterback in his class, and rumors leading up to the big day had it that Levis was riding high in the first round.
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The quarterbacks chosen from the top five picks were Bryce Young for the Carolina Panthers at No. 1, CJ Stroud for the Houston Texans at No. 2 and Florida’s Anthony Richardson for the Indianapolis Colts at No. 4.
In 11 games last season, Levis passed for 2,406 yards, 19 touchdowns and 10 interceptions while completing 65.4% of his passes.
Levis’ career began at Penn State. In two seasons there (14 games), Levis played backup and totaled 644 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions.
He transferred to Kentucky in 2021 and got a chance to be the team’s full-time starter. He passed for 2,826 yards, 24 touchdowns and 13 interceptions while completing 66% of his passes in 13 games.
A knock on Levis is their consistency. It has a prototypical size of 6-foot-4, 229 pounds with a rocket for an arm, but it doesn’t always have the best accuracy. He, too, dealt with injuries in 2022.
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With Ryan Tannehill only under contract for one more season and Malik Willis showing no success in eight games (three starts) last season, Levis joins a quarterback room that could change sooner rather than later.