2023 NFL Draft: Will Levis, once favored to go second overall, goes unselected in first round

Every year, the NFL Draft is full of surprises, and the 2023 version was no different.

But perhaps the biggest one of the night was the fact that Will Levis, who earlier this week was the favorite to be the second overall pick, wasn’t even selected in the first round.

Earlier this week, a Reddit rumor said Levis was telling people that the Carolina Panthers were taking him with the first overall pick Thursday night. Sportsbooks took note, as Levis’ odds of being the first pick went from plus-4000 to 4-1.


Will Levis

Kentucky quarterback Will Levis (7) holds the ball in the second half of an NCAA college football game against South Carolina, Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021, at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Hakim Wright Sr.)

Levis neither confirmed nor denied the rumor, but he did downplay it.

He was asked a day later whether it was true, and he replied with an adage as old as the World Wide Web.

“All I’ve said is don’t believe everything you read on the internet,” he said on Wednesday.

However, it sure is quite the surprise that he seemed like a total lock to go top-five, and now, he’ll have to return to the green room for one more day.

The bad night for Levis began when the Houston Texans’ smokescreens were all untrue, and they selected Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud with the second overall pick, which had long been the consensus until recently.

Will Levis passes against Georgia

Will Levis #7 of the Kentucky Wildcats against the Georgia Bulldogs at Kroger Field on November 19, 2022 in Lexington, Kentucky.  (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)


But two picks later, the Indianapolis Colts selected Florida QB Anthony Richardson, thus beginning the free fall.

The Atlanta Falcons, who currently have a competition with Desmond Ridder and Taylor Heinecke, selected running back Bijan Robinson at No. 8. Ryan Tannehill’s Tennessee Titans at No. 11 went with offensive lineman Peter Skoronski, and the Washington Commanders, for now, are sticking with Sam Howell after they took cornerback Emmanuel Forbes.

All eyes were on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the 19th selection after Tom Brady’s retirement, but they went with Pittsburgh defensive tackle Calijah Kancey. 

The Minnesota Vikings could have picked Kirk Cousins’ successor, but instead, they went with wide receiver Jordan Addison. After that, nobody else exactly was in dire need of a quarterback.

Will Levis throws against Missouri

Will Levis #7 of the Kentucky Wildcats throws a pass during the second half against the Missouri Tigers at Faurot Field/Memorial Stadium on November 5, 2022 in Columbia, Missouri.  (Jay Biggerstaff/Getty Images)


Of course, Levis will get taken, but it does remain to be seen where he will take his talents.

In his two full seasons as Kentucky’s quarterback (24 games), Levis threw for 5,232 yards, 33 touchdowns and 23 interceptions with a 65.7 completion percentage.

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