Tom Brady Is the Past, Is Will Levis the Future?

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will host Kentucky quarterback Will Levis on a top-30 visit Wednesday, according to NFL Insider Tom Pelissero. With Baker Mayfield and Kyle Trask the only two quarterbacks on the Buccaneers’ roster, could Tampa Bay be eyeing Levis up as the franchise’s future following Tom Brady’s retirement?

Are the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Eyeing Up Will Levis?

Levis, as a potential target for the Buccaneers, is intriguing. He’s a quarterback that seems to split opinions heading into the 2023 NFL Draft.

As Ian Cummings highlights in his scouting report, “Levis has very exciting tools as a passer and a creator,” and “brings elite arm talent to the fold. He generates elite velocity on throws with visible ease and has a quick, crisp 3/4 sidearm release. His velocity carries well to all levels of the field and travels with immediacy in the short and intermediate ranges.”

That strong arm is really the centerpiece of Levis’ abilities, but there are also plenty of areas he needs to develop. The most pressing area right now is “his inconsistent field vision and anticipation.” On top of that, there are decision-making concerns with Levis that could limit where teams are willing to take him.

The quarterback group in this year’s draft is seemingly in a constant state of flux, highlighted by the recent shift in No. 1 overall betting odds that have seen Bryce Young become the favorite to be the first-overall pick in the past week. Levis may actually be the main poster boy for that flux.

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When you look at mock drafts around the industry, some have Levis going as high as first overall, while others don’t see him coming off the board until the second half of Round 1. When we look at Levis’ current odds on FanDuel Sportsbook, he’s +6000 to be the first overall pick, +2500 at second overall, +700 at third overall, and +200 to go off the board fourth.

In his recent mock draft for PFN, Tony Pauline has Levis going off the board 19th overall to the Buccaneers. In his writeup, Pauline comments that “Levis is not as highly thought of in the scouting community as he is on Draft Twitter.” Therefore, a destination like the Buccaneers, where he can sit and learn behind a veteran in Mayfield, would be an intriguing landing spot.

The Texans and Colts remain the favorites to draft Levis at +250, with the Buccaneers sitting fifth at +1000. On DraftKings Sportsbook, Levis has a pick over/under of 7.5, with the under favored at -170 and the over at +135.

The Buccaneers Biggest Needs Are on Offense This Year

In his recent NFL team needs pieces, Dalton Miller listed the Buccaneers’ top four needs as OT, QB, G, and EDGE. “They need a left tackle more than I need air in my lungs, and it wouldn’t hurt for the Buccaneers to improve at right guard, either,” Miller wrote.

In terms of the QB position, Miller stated, “There’s a sliver of hope that Baker Mayfield can become a guy that can drive the bus to playoff contention,” but added that “in a league driven by high-caliber QB play, Tampa would be wise to take a home-run swing on a prospect sooner rather than later.”

The question is, do the Buccaneers try to put the pieces around Mayfield first and then get a developmental QB later in the draft, or do they swing for that high upside with Levis? There will almost certainly be some intriguing tackle prospects available at 19 who would have the potential to start from Day 1. However, the potential drop-off from Levis to a Day 2 QB is likely significantly bigger than the tackle drop-off.

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If the Buccaneers do like Levis, they may have to move up to get him. Jumping into the top four will be costly. We just saw the Carolina Panthers pay two firsts, two seconds, and a high-quality WR in DJ Moore for the right to go from nine to one. The Buccaneers would likely have to give up at least one more first and some other high-level capital to jump from 19 into the top five.

Moving up into the 5-10 region may well be more realistic, but if Levis is the last of the top four QBs available, it could be a competitive market. Of course, Tampa Bay could stand pat and hope Levis falls to them.

However, doing so would send an interesting message. Taking a quarterback in the first round is always a statement move, but not moving up could have an air of “we like you, but not that much.” Levis and the Buccaneers is certainly an intriguing match, and the chess games around where he comes off the board will be fascinating to watch on draft night.

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