Three of the four perceived quarterbacks threw at their respective pro days this week. Florida's Anthony Richardson is the last to go next week. Here is a recap of the pro days to already occur:
Friday, March 24: Kentucky
Houston and Indianapolis have not been sending their top decision-makers to these quarterback pro days and that is likely by design. Some teams prefer to operate privately and hold their cards close to the vest while others are less worried about the imagery and take the opportunity to gain more intel. When the Bears selected Mitch Trubisky in 2017, they had hardly met with the quarterback prior to commissioner Roger Goodell announcing his name on stage.
Seattle and Carolina each had their head coach and general manager in town. The same was true of Tennessee, which met with the quarterback privately. Levis and family dined with the entire Panthers contingent Thursday night. He met separately with Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels and other key decision-makers, including assistant general manager and former Kentucky football player Champ Kelly.
On Friday, he measured 6-foot-3 7/8 and 231 pounds. His throwing session was last on the schedule. Some were put off by his decision to scramble out of the pocket to make throws at the NFL Combine, but that was to show his foot was healthier more than anything. Levis really drove the ball on short to intermediate throws, which was not unexpected. He has a quick release generated with a flick of the wrist. His accuracy was generally good but the ball placement was lacking. There were some passes in which the ball was not out in front of the route-runner, halting momentum in the process. Touch was not always there on his throws.
SHEEEESH @will_levis 🚀 @ukfootball— NFL (@NFL) March 24, 2023
📱: NFL+ Pro Days Live https://t.co/btRyV5Q4Ok pic.twitter.com/GMhXNxL3kI
The Penn State transfer showed off his ability to make throws on the run, including a beautiful 50-yard completion up the right sideline. There were some wobbly deep throws almost exclusively to his left but, make no mistake about it, arm strength was not an issue. He is capable of making every throw on an NFL football field. The quarterback was able to throw 60-plus yards and, either intentionally or accidentally, hit the ceiling of the indoor facility at one point.
When the dust settled, Levis did enough to solidify his claim of being a first-round pick in my opinion.
Aside from the quarterback, a few other Wildcats stood out. Running back Chris Rodriguez ran the 40-yard dash in 4.52 seconds, which was a good time for a player built on power. Cornerback Carrington Valentine ran the 40-yard dash in 4.41 seconds. His camp was expecting to run a little faster but that is good speed to go along with a 39-inch vertical jump and a 10-feet-8-inch broad jump at the NFL Combine. Cornerback Keidron Smith impressed after holding his own on the all-star game circuit.
Wednesday, March 22: Ohio State
NFL head coaches, general managers flocked to Ohio State as the Buckeyes hosted their pro day on Wednesday. The Buckeyes boast three potential first-round picks -- wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba, offensive tackle Paris Johnson Jr. and quarterback C.J. Stroud -- as well as several other prospects whose names should be called over the three-day period at the end of April.
Here were the notable decision-makers on hand, per SI's Albert Breer, and mostly confirmed by my own eyes:
- Bills general manager Brandon Beane
- Commanders general manager Martin Mayhew
- Giants head coach Brian Daboll
- Giants general manager Joe Schoen
- Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst
- Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels
- Raiders general manager Dave Ziegler
- Saints head coach Dennis Allen
- Saints general manager Mickey Loomis
- Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll
- Seahawks general manager John Schneider
- Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin
- Steelers general manager Omar Khan
- Titans head coach Mike Vrabel
- Titans general manager Ran Carthon
- Panthers head coach Frank Reich
- Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer
It was noteworthy that the Colts and Texans -- two teams expected to take a quarterback in the draft -- were represented by neither general manager nor head coach.
Stroud, who is No. 4 overall in the CBSSports.com prospect rankings, was crisp in the throwing portion of the event. He makes it look effortless throwing with touch to all three levels of the field. Critics will say that is was a glorified 7-on-7 throwing in shorts and a T-shirt but there is something to be said for how Stroud carried himself in that environment. He looked confident and was driving the football. He was able to drive the ball in the short to intermediate while getting great loft on his passes 55 yards downfield. His few hiccups came on throws to the left. There was an outbreaking route to tight end Cade Stover, who should be a top tight end prospect in next year's draft class, that was off the mark and then there were a few inbreaking routes where he put the ball on the back of the hip.
The final throw of the day from Ohio State. pic.twitter.com/TndWnCgg9W— Josh Edwards (@EdwardsCBS) March 22, 2023
NFL talent evaluators sounded more than satisfied by what they saw in Columbus. Reich, Panthers quarterbacks coach Josh McCown and owner David Tepper all congratulated the quarterback after the event ended.
Stroud was not the only performer, however.
Offensive tackle Dawand Jones and safety Ronnie Hickman were a few of the notable Buckeyes who did not perform on-field drills or testing. During the on-field portion of the event, cornerback Cameron Brown and defensive back Tanner McCalister looked really smooth during their transitions. McCalister was timed running a 4.44 seconds 40-yard dash, while Brown ran a 4.53 seconds 40-yard dash. They do not get a lot of buzz on the draft radar but fans should know their names.
Smith-Njigba, who is the No. 25 overall prospect, tested really well in agility drills at the NFL Combine but did not run the 40-yard dash. Many had questions about his top-end speed but he more than passed the test Wednesday, running the 40-yard dash in 4.48 seconds; plenty fast enough for a player in the conversation to be the first wide receiver off the board. Draft ineligible wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. was the most impressive looking wide receiver in the way that he glided across the field and his awareness for the sideline. However, Smith-Njigba showed off his soft hands and route-running abilities.
The 2023 NFL Draft will take place from April 27-29 in Kansas City, Missouri.
Ryan Wilson and former Vikings general manager Rick Spielman were also present for Ohio State's and Kentucky's Pro Day and will be attending each of the remaining quarterback pro days. Fans should subscribe to the 'With the First Pick podcast' to get their thoughts on what they saw.