With the 2023 NFL Draft only days away, the New England Patriots have identified several players of interest that they could be looking to add to their team. That includes a somewhat surprising target in Kentucky Wildcats quarterback Will Levis.
Patriots Eyeing Quarterback Prospect Despite Potential Flaws
According to Patriots insider Mike Giardi, New England has shown “real interest” in Levis, who met with the team on April 19. He also added that “there are important folks in [the Patriots] building that believe in the talent,” which produced 5,243 passing yards and 43 passing touchdowns during Levis’ two seasons at Kentucky.
New England isn’t the only team keen on Levis, who is regarded as one of the top quarterback prospects in this year’s draft class along with former Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young, CJ Stroud and Anthony Richardson. NFL.com called him “one of the most physically gifted quarterbacks in the draft,” so it’s possible Levis won’t be on the board by the time the Patriots make their first selection at 14th overall.
Giardi’s report suggests that other organizations may not be as enamored with Levis as New England is, however. He notes that Levis “hasn’t blown anyone away” during his visits with other teams, which include QB-needy squads such as the Carolina Panthers and Las Vegas Raiders.
That may be because teams are concerned about his leadership ability, per a follow-up tweet from Giardi. Giardi notes that according to several scouts, “players didn’t gravitate to [Levis]” at Kentucky despite his talent on the field.
As Patriots fans know from watching Tom Brady for two decades, the best quarterbacks typically blend leadership qualities with their physical abilities. If Levis lacks the magnetic presence that teams are looking for, it may cause him to slip down draft boards and potentially fall into New England’s hands.
Are Patriots Ready to Move on From Mac Jones?
New England’s interest in Levis suggests the franchise may still be looking to move on from incumbent quarterback Mac Jones. Jones butted heads with assistant coaches Matt Patricia and Joe Judge last year while seeing his performance decline on the field, leading some fans and people in the organization to question whether he’s the long-term solution at quarterback. Being outplayed at times by backup QB Bailey Zappe didn’t help his case, either.
The Patriots reportedly shopped Jones to multiple teams this offseason but haven’t found any takers yet. Drafting a top quarterback prospect like Levis could signal that the team is still looking to move on from Jones and make him expendable. With New England coming off its second losing season in three years and Jones failing to progress as hoped, a fresh face under center may be needed to return to contention in a loaded AFC East that now includes Aaron Rodgers.
Drafting another quarterback wouldn’t necessarily mean the end of Jones’ time with the Patriots, though. They could use the new QB as an insurance policy in case Jones’ performance doesn’t rebound or if he gets hurt again. Head coach Bill Belichick could also use the new QB as a trade chip in negotiations with other teams to potentially bolster the roster elsewhere.