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Will Levis, widely expected to be picked in first round of 2023 NFL Draft, suffers awkward moments as he isn’t chosen until round 2

<i>Doug Benc/AP</i><br/>Levis waits in the Green Room with family at the 2023 NFL Draft.
Doug Benc/AP
Levis waits in the Green Room with family at the 2023 NFL Draft.

By Ben Morse, CNN

We’ve seen it before. Those cutaways during the NFL Draft to hopefuls waiting for their names to be picked as other players are chosen ahead of them.

Expressions range from confusion and disbelief to awkwardness and anger.

Some eventually iconic names have had to run the NFL Draft greenroom gauntlet in the past: Hall of Fame defensive tackle Warren Sapp was projected to go in the top five but eventually went 12th and Aaron Rodgers was expected to go at the top of the 2005 Draft but had to sit and wait before his name was the 24th one called.

On Thursday night, we can add another name to the list of players forced to sit and stew as they wait to be selected; only this time, their name wasn’t called at all.

Will Levis, the quarterback from Kentucky, was widely projected to be drafted in the first round, if not the top 10 selections.

He must’ve entered the first round with high expectations — according to ESPN, there was a 92% chance that Levis was going to be picked in the top 10.

There was even a rumor surfaced on Reddit which suggested he might be a stunning outside bet for the No. 1 pick — he wasn’t in the end, with the Carolina Panthers selecting Bryce Young.

However, as the picks went by, Levis was forced to wait. Other quarterbacks were called ahead of him — CJ Stroud went to the Houston Texans with the second pick and Anthony Richardson was selected by the Indianapolis Colts with the fourth pick.

Levis waited, waited, waited and waited. But when the final pick was turned in and it Levis’ name wasn’t on that ticket, the waiting game was over.

Levis, to the surprise of many, had slipped out of the first round.

His exclusion from the first round was made even the more surprising given the teams who would make sense for a young quarterback — the Tennessee Titans, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or the Detroit Lions.

The quarterback didn’t have to wait long Friday, with the Titans trading up and using the 33rd pick of the draft, and the second of the night on Levis.

According to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, a left toe injury which caused Levis to miss two games last season was considered “problematic” by a team who thought about drafting him and, although he insisted that the “toe has healed,” another team believed “Levis could manage it but thought surgery would need discussion after [the] season.”

Luckily for Levis, he wasn’t the only player to not get their name called in the Green Room in Kansas City — Alabama defensive back Brian Branch, Penn State cornerback Joey Porter Jr. and Georgia Tech defensive end Keion White all were forced to sit around nervously.

NFL analyst Lance Zierlein described Levis as being “one of the most physically gifted quarterbacks in the draft, but there are warts in his game that might not be easily corrected.”

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