“Will Levis is trash.”
“Malik Willis is better.”
“Guy couldn’t even beat out Malik Willis.”
“Levis is this year’s Zach Wilson and Kenny Pickett – – and he has a 100% chance of being a bust in the NFL.”
I’ve seen it all. I’ve heard it all. People, myself included, can be prone to ‘take lock.’ The “what have you done for me lately” complex tends to overwhelm solid scouting. Look at Sam Howell. The guy’s tape screamed first-round pick, yet he struggled after losing all of his talent to the NFL his last season of college, and took a free fall down the draft.
People couldn’t look past Levis’ tumultuous senior season at Kentucky and look at the whole picture for what it was.
Liam Coen and his creative play-calling stemming from the Sean McVay coaching tree was a match made in heaven. Levis and Coen made sweet music in their lone season together at Kentucky. In his first year, he flashed his incredible arm strength, uncanny ability to make difficult throws, and leadership on and off the field.
It wasn’t perfect. Levis showed a natural affinity for some head-scratching interceptions. This was highlighted by the forgettable tenure of Rich Scangarello as the offensive coordinator in Levis’ senior season. The absence of the Big Blue Wall in front of him, Wan’Dale Robinson playing for the New York Giants, and Coen jumping ship to take over as the Rams OC all spelled doom from the get-go for Levis.
His senior season was marred with regrettable sacks, nasty injuries, and ugly interceptions.
Still, plays like Levis effortlessly flicking the ball 60 yards in the air and hitting Dane Key in the endzone for a pivotal touchdown against Florida showcased how tantalizing a prospect Levis could be.
Which brings this all full circle. Levis was drafted in the second round by the Titans after his shocking fall from the first round.
This offseason saw Levis struggle a bit during training camp and OTAs. His preseason appearance was full of ups and downs, including a dreadful interception to lose the game.
Ryan Tannehill was still trotted out as the starter, and… well, he stunk.
Levis was given the nod against a tough secondary in Atlanta, allowing the eighth fewest passing yards in the league. He proceeded to light them up for 238 yards and four TDs. He’s already been named the starter for Thursday against the Steelers.
LEVIS’ REST OF SEASON FANTASY OUTLOOK
What is Levis’ ceiling? Was Sunday the best fantasy players should expect for Levis in 2023?
Levis’ big arm and talent for throwing the deep ball make him an enticing fantasy pickup off the Week 9 Waiver Wire.
Three of his four touchdowns went for 30+ yards, which is the most all-time in an NFL debut, according to the NFL.
“This is a dream come true for sure,” Levis said on Sunday. “I dreamed of this moment as a kid, and to get a win is incredible. But we have a few more minutes to celebrate it today, then we’re on to Pittsburgh, as Vrabel would say.”
What was most impressive is he seemed to avoid some of those errors that plagued him while at Kentucky. He displayed command of the offense and surveyed the field quickly and effectively.
Levis’ outing was good for 26.6 FP, and he did an excellent job of spreading the ball around. Four different players saw at least four targets, including DeAndre Hopkins and Chig Okonkwo, seeing six targets apiece. Most importantly, he unlocked Hopkins, who had yet to see the end zone this season before connecting with Levis three times for six.
Still, this type of performance should not be expected every week. According to Pro Football Reference, Levis and the Titans passing attack scored 5.01 points above expectation.
In the game, the Titans ran the ball 36 times vs. only 29 pass attempts. In fact, the Titans rank 32nd in total pass attempts, averaging around 24 per game. Part of that is due to the injuries that have plagued Treylon Burks and the inept play of Tannehill.
What is most promising is, despite leading, the Titans didn’t just pull back the reigns on Levis. They let him cook, and Derrick Henry do the dirty work on the ground to set up deep shots.
With the league averaging 34.1 pass attempts per game, Levis would continue to need to press the ball downfield and do more with his legs to return more than streamer value as long as he’s on the field.
With Levis earning the nod Thursday as Tannehill continues to recover, his status as the starter going forward is not yet cemented. So Levis should not be more than a speculative add in re-draft.
Levis checks in at QB18 (+11 vs ECR!) on The Wolf’s Rest of Season Rankings.
WILL LEVIS’ DYNASTY OUTLOOK
Before Sunday’s game, Levis was buried on people’s benches.
After the Falcons game showed that Levis had the potential to be a franchise quarterback, his value skyrocketed.
According to KeepTradeCut, Levis is the highest riser currently on dynasty boards, with his trade value jumping over 1,500 points.
For reference, Levis (QB19) is now valued higher on dynasty boards than:
- Deshaun Watson (QB20)
- Kenny Pickett (QB21)
- Geno Smith (QB22)
Overall, Levis ranks just behind Mike Evans and George Kittle and just ahead of Calvin Ridley and a 2024 early second-round pick.
With uncertainty surrounding his future following this Thursday, Levis might make an interesting sell-high candidate but actually best profiles as a hold.
His talent, especially as a passer, should never have been in question. Now that he has firmly jumped over Willis on the depth chart and possibly Tannehill if he performs well on Thursday. Either way, Levis has likely shown enough to be strongly considered the Titans starting quarterback in 2024.