The 2023 Reese’s Senior Bowl is complete and many participants saw their draft stock affected. One participant, however, was missing. Kentucky QB Will Levis, who many consider to be a first round prospect, declined his Senior Bowl invitation. The talk among many in Mobile was about how it was a missed opportunity for the Wildcats QB. However, I think it was the right decision for him. More importantly, I think it was the right decision to maintain his 2023 NFL Draft stock.
Will Levis declining a Senior Bowl offer.
— The 4 Man Rush (@4ourmanrush) January 28, 2023
All season long, Will Levis has remained on the board as one of the top quarterbacks in the 2023 NFL Draft class. He was able to maintain this draft stock despite the team’s struggles. The Kentucky Wildcats finished with a record of 7-5 in the regular season, as well as a 3-5 record in SEC Conference play. To finish the season, Kentucky lost to the Iowa Hawkeyes in the Music City Bowl.
Will Levis has the traits that NFL Scouts love. He has the athleticism, as well as the arm talent, that can win games on Sundays. He did this, by the way, with an offensive coordinator that lacked a creative playbook. Liam Coen, who was Kentucky’s OC before spending the 2021 season with the Los Angeles Rams in the same role, has returned to Kentucky.
This has left many to wonder what Will Levis would have looked like with another season of Coen’s offense under his belt.
What Would The 2023 Senior Bowl Have Looked Like With Will Levis As A Participant?
All week long, NFL Scouts and Draft Analysts were having the discussion about how Will Levis should have participated in the All-Star event. Louisville QB Malik Cunningham accepted his invitation after both Will Levis and Stetson Bennett declined.
Jim Nagy, the Executive Director of the Reese’s Senior Bowl, held an opening press conference prior to the start of the week’s practices. During the press conference, he touched on how there wasn’t a first-round quarterback in the game. In fact, it’s the first time in seven years that there likely won’t be one.
Some of the top quarterbacks to participate in the 2023 Reese’s Senior Bowl included Fresno State QB Jake Haener, Houston QB Clayton Tune, and Shepherd QB Tyson Bagent, a Division II prospect.
Had Will Levis participated in the 2023 Senior Bowl, there are likely two outcomes.
One, he comes out and shines during the week of practices, as well as gameday. NFL Scouts and coaches fall in love with him, and he justifies his first-round draft stock.
However, let’s look at the other possible outcome.
What happens if Will Levis comes out to the Senior Bowl and looks flat?
If Levis came out and didn’t look much better than the other participants at quarterback, it would be devastating to his 2023 NFL Draft stock. He almost certainly wouldn’t be a day one draft pick. Levis would then have to go into the NFL Combine, which takes place from March 2nd-March 6th, on the defensive.
By sitting out of the 2023 Reese’s Senior Bowl, Will Levis now controls the narrative. NFL front offices are speculating on what type of player Levis will become, but they only have game film. For what it’s worth, I find it unlikely that Will Levis will throw at the 2023 NFL Combine in Indianapolis.
Rather, I think Will Levis continues to stand pat in regards to throwing. He’ll go through interviews and answer the hard-hitting questions from NFL franchises, but that’s likely to be it. This can be viewed as a similar strategy to that of Sam Darnold. While he was only a redshirt sophomore when he declared for the 2018 NFL Draft, Darnold declined to throw at the NFL Combine, opting instead to do so at USC’s Pro Day.
For Will Levis, I think the future is clear. He’ll decline to throw at the NFL Combine. At the Kentucky Pro Day, he’ll look fantastic executing throws that he’s comfortable with. His arm strength will be on display as he pushes the ball down the field. From now until the 2023 NFL Draft, the discussion will be about if Will Levis belongs as a day one prospect. However, as the first team goes on the clock, I firmly believe that Will Levis will be part of the discussion.
That’s because he is in control of his own narrative.