It was surprising not to see Kentucky quarterback Will Levis off the 2023 NFL Draft board in Round 1 Thursday, but it didn’t take long for a team to take him in the second round.
The Tennessee Titans traded up in a deal with the Arizona Cardinals to land Levis.
The Titans gave up their No. 41 and No. 72 picks and a 2024 third-round pick in exchange for No. 33 — the Levis pick — and the No. 81 pick.
The Titans reportedly tried trading up in the first round but weren’t able to find the right partner to do so. The Titans took offensive lineman Peter Skoronski at No. 11 overall.
One implication of Levis being drafted after the first round is the Titans won’t have a fifth-year option for him. If Levis becomes a franchise guy, a contract extension will be coming a year sooner.
Levis remained seated in the green room behind the NFL Draft stage watching most of his peers walk up to receive their jerseys Thursday. ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. had Levis as his second-best quarterback in the class, and rumors leading up to the big day had Levis going high in the first round.
The quarterbacks taken in the top five picks were Bryce Young to the Carolina Panthers at No. 1, C.J. Stroud to the Houston Texans at No. 2 and Florida’s Anthony Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts at No. 4.
In 11 games last season, Levis threw 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 in a backup role and totaled 644 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions.
He transferred to Kentucky in 2021 and got an opportunity to be the team’s full-time starter. He threw for 2,826 yards, 24 touchdowns and 13 interceptions while completing 66% of his passes over 13 games.
A knock on Levis is his consistency. He has prototypical size at 6-foot-4, 229 pounds with a rocket for an arm, but he doesn’t always have the best accuracy. He also dealt with injuries in 2022.
With Ryan Tannehill only under contract one more season and Malik Willis failing to show success in eight games (three starts) last season, Levis joins a quarterbacks room that could be in flux sooner rather than later.