Has Will Levis officially left the race to be Panthers' No. 1 pick in 2023?

Will Levis
Will Levis / Jeff Faughender/Courier Journal and USA

Has quarterback Will Levis lost any slim hopes of becoming the Carolina Panthers pick at No. 1 overall in the 2023 NFL Draft?

While the Carolina Panthers are still contemplating who to take at No. 1 overall in the 2023 NFL Draft, one name seems to have gone missing in recent days. That's despite Will Levis showcasing his phenomenal arm strength in front of league personnel at Kentucky's pro day. 

Levis is a polarizing prospect. One one hand, he has all the physical attributes needed to make a real go of things in the right environment, but his concerning production with the Wildcats in 2022 mean it could be some time before he's ready to assume command under center at the next level. 

Frank Reich and other influential figures in Carolina saw Levis in action. They also hosted the signal-caller for a dinner the night before, which is a similar method of finding out more about the prospect they implemented with C.J. Stroud and Bryce Young. 

Carolina Panthers cannot gamble their future on Will Levis

With Anthony Richardson's pro day taking place on Thursday, this represents the final piece of the puzzle before discussions gather pace. But it looks like Levis might be out of the running with almost no buzz whatsoever to emerge from Carolina following his workout. 

Rumors also circulated - although unsubstantiated by legitimate NFL insiders - about Levis "bombing interviews". Just how true these are is debatable, but it's a bad thing for someone to leak at this stage of the assessment process whether the source is reliable or not. 

Either way, momentum seems to be dwindling surrounding Levis and becoming Carolina's pick atop the draft. In truth, this was probably a non-starter from the moment general manager Scott Fitterer struck a deal with the Chicago Bears

The Panthers didn't need to go up so high for Levis. He might be talented and coming from a pro-style offense, but there are far too many question marks to select the prospect with any real conviction. 

Richardson's exceptional athletic attributes and strong work ethic make him the wildcard. If the Panthers don't go with Stroud or Young, he'll be the guy. 

One team is going to take a chance on Levis in the top 10. There are too many quarterback-needy teams to suggest otherwise - especially after Carolina jumped most of them to get their choice of any college signal-caller. 

Having a cannon for an arm is not enough. Teams have to believe Levis has the mental strength and leadership capable of taking charge of grown men in the huddle and inspiring them. 

Whether he can do this or not remains to be seen. Levis must land in the right fit with a strong mentor and outstanding coaching staff similar to what Carolina's assembled for their new rookie. 

Unfortunately, it doesn't look like Levis is a serious contender. Certainly not if David Newton of ESPN's revelations about it being between Young and Stroud are correct based on Reich's recent comments.

"Kentucky’s Will Levis and Florida’s Anthony Richardson still are being evaluated, so they’re still technically in the running. Reich even said there are moments on Richardson’s film that “scream top pick.’ But according to sources with knowledge of the search, the Panthers' choice is between Stroud and Young."

David Newton, ESPN

Only time will tell. The whole debating process is becoming tiresome for most Panthers fans, so the big night cannot come soon enough. 

Levis - like others projected to be taken high - is nervously awaiting his fate. And there isn't much more the prospect can do to alter perceptions in any case.

Just let the chips fall where they may.

Next. Carolina Panthers 7-round mock: Pro days provide clear picture. dark