Levis taken by Titans in second round of NFL Draft

Published 10:34 am Monday, May 1, 2023

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The wait is over for Will Levis, who found out he was wanted after all.

The former Kentucky quarterback, one of 17 college players invited to Kansas City for the opening round of the NFL Draft on Thursday who then went unselected, was picked in the second round as the 33rd overall pick by the Tennessee Titans, who traded up eight places Friday night to be able to get him.

Levis wasn’t among the 31 prospects taken in Thursday’s first round of the NFL Draft. Many draft analysts projected him to go as high as No. 2. However, he was the second player taken in the second round by the Titans, who took an offensive lineman in the opening round.

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Three of the top four picks taken in the draft were quarterbacks. Former Alabama standout Bryce Young (Carolina) was the top pick, CJ Stroud (Ohio State) was chosen by Houston as the third selection and the Indianapolis Colts chose Florida’s Anthony Richardson as the fourth pick in the draft.

Speculation about an injury on Levis’ left toe that forced him to miss two games last season was an issue for some teams, contributing to his slide down the draft ladder in the opening round.

The Titans made an aggressive move for their potential quarterback of the future by agreeing to a trade with the Arizona Cardinals, who acquired a second-round pick (No. 41 overall) and a third-round pick (No. 72) in this year’s draft and a third-rounder in 2024.

The Titans received a third-round pick (No. 81) from the Cardinals to land Levis, who threw for 5,233 yards and 43 touchdowns in two seasons at Kentucky.

Ryan Tannehill, 35, is expected to be the starter for the Titans. Levis should be able to take a backup role and potentially take over as the starter in 2024 if the Titans void the remaining two years on Tannehill’s contract.

Levis will compete with Tennessee’s 2022 third-round pick, Malik Willis, to be Tannehill’s backup under new offensive coordinator Tim Kelly.

“I’m just ready to learn,” said the former Kentucky quarterback. “I just want to learn as much as I can from them, and I want to be the best teammate that I can be going in there to compete, for sure. They’ve got a lot more experience than I have in the NFL and I just want to learn from them and just do whatever I can to help the team win.”

Levis left the NFL Draft in Kansas City before the second round started Friday night because he and his family needed to return to their home in Connecticut for a big party planned for Saturday, reported AP Football writer Teresa Walker.

The Titans ended the QB’s agonizing wait under the glare of TV cameras with the No. 33 overall pick. Levis says they were in a very different atmosphere at home after being in nice suits and dresses Thursday night.

Levis said his flight was delayed, and he arrived home just before the Titans called to tell him they selected him. Levis says he was a “crying mess” and he was “ecstatic to get the call.”

Levis led the Wildcats to a 10-3 record in his first season in 2021 after transferring from Penn State. UK defeated Iowa 20-17 in the Citrus Bowl. He didn’t compete in the Music City Bowl last December when the Hawkeyes defeated the Wildcats 21-0 in a bowl rematch.