Does Will Levis have enough to become Carolina Panthers franchise QB?

(Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports) Will Levis
(Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports) Will Levis /

Does Kentucky prospect Will Levis have enough in his locker to become the Carolina Panthers franchise quarterback in 2023 and beyond?

There seemed to be a different rumor every minute about what the Carolina Panthers plan to do at the quarterback position in 2023. This is exactly what general manager Scott Fitterer wanted before striking with conviction to get the No. 1 overall selection from the Chicago Bears.

While there was interest in Derek Carr and speculation linking the Panthers with Jimmy Garoppolo in recent days, going bold during the 2023 NFL Draft was the most likely outcome. And the Panthers now have the pick of any quarterback after sacrificing draft capital and wide receiver D.J. Moore to pull off a major deal.

Even if the Panthers got themselves to No. 3 overall, they wouldn’t have had such a luxury. The Houston Texans are taking a quarterback, so if the Indianapolis Colts or someone else surged to the top spot instead, it could have left Carolina facing the prospect of missing out on their preferred choice.

Fitterer stated recently that the intention is to go up. But now that has been achieved emphatically, the Panthers must make the correct decision.

Carolina Panthers remain heavily linked with Will Levis

Although he’s a polarizing figure, Will Levis is a prospect that remains hotly linked with the Panthers. Many beat reporters and those in the national media indicate that Carolina is high on the former Kentucky star despite some significant work ahead before he’s ready to assume command of an NFL offense.

Coming from a pro-style offensive structure with the Wildcats should assist Levis with his transition. But a disappointing final college campaign coupled with some obvious mechanical flaws mean this is a development project with little chance of starting right out of the gate.

Levis cannot recognize pressure effectively just yet. He might have the draft’s best arm, but accuracy is a concern and as Daniel Jeremiah of the NFL Network stated, throwing touch and distribution to his left-hand side were evident during his time in college and at the recent NFL Scouting Combine.

"“He is a power thrower, capable of fitting the ball into tight windows at the second and third levels. However, he needs to get more consistent underneath. He has bad misses, especially when throwing to the left. He tends to close off his front side, which severely impacts his ball placement.”"

If the Panthers do identify Levis as the guy, they better have a plan. This is a strong environment for any rookie to learn his craft under the likes of Frank Reich, Thomas Brown, and Josh McCown, but this represents a feast-or-famine move that could go either way.

Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud look like the top two quarterback prospects this year, although they might not work out, either. One team will gamble on Anthony Richardson’s elite traits early on after a phenomenal display of athleticism at the NFL Scouting Combine, with Levis also having the upside normally associated with franchise players at the position.

I’ll finish with this. For every Josh Allen, there are five Sam Darnolds. Players with all the physical gifts needed, but just cannot put it together consistently once they get to the pros.

This is a franchise-altering move the Panthers are about to make. Especially considering the compensation involved with trading up to No. 1 overall.

Only time will tell.

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