The Tennessee Titans traded up to select Kentucky Wildcats quarterback Will Levis on Friday. New general manager Ran Carthon swapped selections in the second-and-third rounds with the Arizona Cardinals, and also included a 2024 third-rounder to complete the deal. Levis’ selection officially places Malik Willis’ future with the team in danger.
The No. 86 overall selection in the 2022 NFL Draft, Willis wasn’t drafted by Carthon. Tennessee’s new decision maker has no ties or reason to show loyalty to Willis. Carthon made that clear by selecting Levis.
Willis struggled mightily throughout his rookie campaign. A raw project coming out of Liberty, Willis’ inability to read NFL defenses was routinely on display. The Titans did him no favors across the offensive line, or at wide receiver, but Willis’ slower-than-expected acclimation period was obvious. Willis struggled with general decision making and accuracy. He did not show a willingness to go through his progressions. He was also shy to throw the football, an issue that got him benched by Mike Vrabel in the preseason.
Willis appeared in eight regular-season contests with three starts. Willis completed 50.8% of his passing attempts (31-of-61) for 276 yards, zero touchdowns and three interceptions. Willis averaged a league-low 4.5 yards per attempt (minimum qualifiers). Willis also fumbled three times, losing two. Willis was benched in favor of veteran journeyman Joshua Dobbs down the stretch.
Teams rarely carry three quarterbacks throughout the regular season. Levis is guaranteed a roster spot. As things stand, Ryan Tannehill appears primed to return as Tennessee’s starter, although we wouldn’t rule out a release or trade. It remains a possibility, but Willis is likely to be considered the odd quarterback out of the three.
The Titans nearly completed a deal with the Cardinals in exchange for the No. 3 overall selection on Thursday. Their interest dwindled when the Houston Texans selected CJ Stroud. Ironically, the Titans eventually acquired a pick from Arizona to draft Levis.
Trading up for Levis immediately places him in Tennessee’s backup spot behind Tannehill. Willis’ remaining tenure in Tennessee may be a short one. Carthon’s dissatisfaction with Willis was made clear on Friday.