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Mel Kiper Jr., Todd McShay clash over Will Levis, idea of Indianapolis Colts trading up to get him

On3 imageby:Andrew Graham03/21/23


NFL Combine
INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - MARCH 04: Quarterback Will Levis of Kentucky participates in a drill during the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on March 04, 2023 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

ESPN draft analysts Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay got going on Tuesday afternoon during a mock draft special, with former Kentucky quarterback Will Levis driving a wedge between the two for a moment. Specifically, McShay took issue with the idea that it’d be beneficial for the Indianapolis Colts to trade up for the No. 3 overall pick to take Levis.

In this potential scenario, CJ Stroud and Bryce Young — widely viewed as the top two quarterback prospects in either order, depending on preferences — have been taking by the Carolina Panthers and Houston Texans, respectively. With quarterbacks coming off the board, Kiper projected the Colts would give up some draft capital to switch places with the Arizona Cardinals and select Levis.

“I think with Will Levis, ultimately, three years down the road, we could look back on this draft and he could be the best quarterback,” Kiper said.

In picking Levis, Kiper lauded his arm strength, physical stature and mobility. He pointed out that Levis was injured and playing behind a subpar offensive line in 2022, and that his 2021 season — where he had nine rushing touchdowns — was more representative tape.

McShay disagreed. He thinks Levis has spent too much time in the weight room and is too bulky, resulting in a stiff throwing motion that causes him to miss “layup” throws, McShay said. That, along with poor ball security had him second-guessing the prudence of trading up to No. 3 to take him.

“Eh — we could look back at this draft and say this is way too high for him to get drafted, too. Based off of the play last year,” McShay said. He added that while it’s not always a bad thing, Levis “plays quarterback like a linebacker.”

One point McShay readily conceded is that with a lack of viable starting options in on the roster, and with a strong desire to get off the quarterback carousel that has hamstrung the franchise, the Colts will be itching to get a quarterback who can play right away. In that regard, it would be Levis over Anthony Richardson or someone else, McShay said.

But from the sound of things, McShay would be fine to sit tight at No. 3 and hope Levis gets to you that way — if he would draft him at all.

“If you’re trading up for a quarterback at three, Will Levis is too high,” McShay said.

Kiper was then riled up, prodding McShay for supposedly changing his tune on Levis and “hating” on him.

“I guess you do hate Will Levis,” Kiper said as host Field Yates grinned, watching the confrontation unfold.

“I’m not,” McShay said, “I just have to balance it out a little bit, Kiper.”

Kiper launched on an explanation of why viewing Levis through the lens of 2022 is misguided.

“He was beat up — his offensive line was terrible. He couldn’t move! He had no mobility. That’s his forte, is being that dual-threat and being able to beat you with his legs,” Kiper said. “So if you’re going to evaluate 2022, you’re going to be disappointed.

He continued stumping for Levis.

“When you get 100% of Will Levis in 2021, the results were damn good,” Kiper said.