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Will Levis is Not Zach Wilson
Our top story this week – Will Levis is not Zach Wilson
It has been clear for months that Will Levis was going to be one of the most polarizing prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft. Whether it’s a bad faith “ couldn’t he beat out Sean Clifford,” or the misguided “23 interceptions over two years is just too many” – every hater has their favorite narrative. Lately, a new take has emerged, one that makes no sense whatsoever. The growing idea that Will Levis is just Zach Wilson 2.0 is based solely on Pro Day throws, and the notion is laughable.
The Reason for the Narrative
The most obvious reason this narrative doesn’t scan is the eye test. Will Levis turned his Pro Day into a gun show, coming in at a rocked-up, 6-4, 231-pounds. While Zach Wilson isn’t exactly tiny at 6-2, 214-pounds, the former BYU Cougar looks like a backup singer to Justin Beiber, while Levis looks like a sculpture carved out of marble.
Then we look at what the two quarterbacks did in college and the idea becomes even more confusing. Wilson was a one-year wonder. After completing 63.7-percent of his passes for 3,960 yards and a 23-12 TD-INT ratio over his first two seasons, Wilson had a year for the ages in 2020. Wilson tossed 33 touchdowns with just three interceptions as a junior, but this was the year in which the COVID-pandemic meant divisions were closed, and BYU had a cakewalk for a schedule.
Over Zach Wilson‘s three seasons in college, he went 17-2 against Group of 5 teams with under-9 wins + Power-5 Non-Bowl teams, averaging 279.8 yards per game while completing 70.6-percent of his passes with a 49-6 TD-INT Ratio. When asked to face Power-5 teams that had a bowl game / Group of 5 Team with 9+ wins, Wilson’s average fell to 233 yards per game, completing 62.8-percent of his passes with a TD-INT ratio of 7-9.
Lesson to learn from Zach Wilson
Arm talent is important — but it wont overcome your play cratering whenever you play a good defense
Wilson went 1.2 despite never torching a strong CFB team. And he was in a loaded draft class!
Arm talent's a hammer; hammers dont solve puzzles https://t.co/WgAzX6CYwL pic.twitter.com/mrKqIerHVP
— Thor Nystrom (@thorku) November 23, 2022
Perhaps no college quarterback had benefited more from schedule than Wilson.
Levis took the opposite path. After two years in the Taysom Hill role at Penn State, rushing for 473 yards while passing for 634, Levis took his talents to Lexington. As part of the SEC, easy games are few and far between. As a member of the Wildcats, one year of Wan’Dale Robinson was all Levis saw in terms of NFL-caliber pass catchers. Even so, Will Levis was able to complete 65.7-percent of his passes. This looks especially good when compared to “best quarterback in the draft” Bryce Young, and his 65.9-percent completion rate surrounded by first-rounders at Alabama.
Another glaring difference between Levis and Wilson is the mobility and Konami Code upside. When we ignore the fact that college football’s sacks count as rushing yards, PFF charted Levis with 824 yards on designed runs, compared to 328 yards on scrambles. Zach Wilson‘s combined rushing total of 858 yards barely tops Levis’s mark on just designed runs because Zach Wilson possesses nowhere near the rushing upside of Will Levis.
The Pro Days
Even the Pro Day throws that broke the internet were not the same. With Jordan Palmer by his side, Levis rolled to his left and threw a 64-yard bomb on a post that his WR was running toward the left side of the field. Without Jordan Palmer by his side, Wilson rolled to his left and threw a 53ish-yard cross-body pass to a WR running a post to the right. Levis will walk into the NFL with a top-5 arm in terms of strength? Wilson doesn’t crack the top 10, yet the comparisons took off all the same.
By no means is Levis a perfect prospect. The former Kentucky Wildcat is the definition of a project. But few quarterbacks in history possess the raw physical attributes of Levis, and that is a bet worth placing.