Despite pre-draft chatter that he could be selected as high as first overall in the 2023 NFL Draft, Will Levis slid into the second round. While they had veteran Ryan Tannehill and 2022 third-round draft pick Malik Willis on the roster, the Tennessee Titans traded up to select the former Kentucky Wildcats quarterback 33rd overall.
Levis has not taken a snap this season, however, that appears set to change in Week 8 as Tannehill is unlikely to suit up after suffering a high ankle sprain in Tennessee’s 24-16 Week 6 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported that Levis is in line to get the start against the Atlanta Falcons as the Titans come out of their bye week, tweeting:
Sources: The #Titans are preparing rookie QB Will Levis to start on Sunday, as the 2nd rounder should make his NFL debut. With Ryan Tannehill (ankle) likely out, coach Mike Vrabel said both Levis and Malik Willis would play. But Levis is expected to be the primary QB.
Willis entered the game in the fourth quarter following Tannehill’s injury, completing four of his five pass attempts for 74 yards, no touchdowns, and no interceptions. He added 17 rushing yards on three carries. The second-year quarterback was sacked four times, with another sack being wiped off. While he looked far more comfortable than he did in limited playing time last season, the Titans appear ready to evaluate Levis’ performance. Both players, however, will get an opportunity to play and showcase why they deserve the position of Tennessee’s quarterback of the future.
How did Will Levis perform in his college career?
Will Levis joined the Penn State Nittany Lions as a three-star recruit in the 2018 recruiting class. After redshirting his true freshman season, Levis served as the backup quarterback in 2019. He made seven appearances, one of which was a start, completing 28 of his 47 pass attempts for 223 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions. The redshirt freshman added 213 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 51 carries.
Levis was once again the Nittany Lions’ backup the following season. In eight games, one of which was a start, he completed 33 of 55 pass attempts for 421 yards, one touchdown, and no interceptions. He also ran for 260 yards and three touchdowns on 82 carries. Prior to the 2021 season, Levis joined the Kentucky Wildcats as a graduate transfer.
He won the starting job and had a breakout season, finishing with 2826 passing yards, 24 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Levis completed 66.0% of his passes while adding 376 rushing yards and nine touchdowns on 107 carries.
After losing several key pieces from his offensive line and skill position groups, he took a step back in 2022. He threw for 2406 yards, 19 touchdowns, and ten interceptions while completing 65.4% of his passes and adding just two rushing touchdowns.
Can Will Levis win the Tennessee Titans starting job?
While Tennessee Titans starter Ryan Tannehill will likely be inactive in Week 8, opening the door for Will Levis to get the start, it is unclear how long his high ankle sprain will keep him sidelined. Meanwhile, the Titans appear ready to turn the page on the past and focus on the future. Tennessee traded two-time All-Pro safety Kevin Byard to the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday, receiving Terrell Edmunds, a younger, cheaper safety, in return, along with two Day 3 draft picks.
If Levis, or Malik Willis, for that matter, are able to shine in Week 8, they could be able to win the starting job. Furthermore, if Tannehill’s injury keeps him out past Week 8 or if he is traded before Tuesday’s deadline, both quarterbacks could get an extended look.