Proposed Trade Has Buccaneers Land Polarizing QB in Surprise Move

Jason Licht

Getty It has been an eventful offseason for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers may not be done making moves at quarterback if a scenario plays out where one of the top prospects falls in the 2023 NFL draft. CBS Sports’ Chris Trapasso offers a scenario where former Kentucky standout quarterback Will Levis drops outside the top 10 and has the Bucs trading up to land the star.

The trade proposal has Tampa Bay moving up to snag the Patriots’ No. 14 pick in order stop Levis’ fall. As part of the deal to rise five spots, the Buccaneers send the Patriots a 2024 second-round pick in addition to No. 19.

“The Buccaneers don’t wait around for Levis as he gets this close to them,” Trapasso wrote on March 29, 2023. “Serious competition for Kyle Trask and Baker Mayfield. The Patriots get No. 19 overall and a 2024 second-round pick to slide back in this swap.”

Levis has been jockeying for position on draft boards among the consensus top-four quarterback prospects alongside Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud and Anthony Richardson. The quarterback has his defenders but his 23 interceptions over the last two seasons makes him a polarizing player heading into the draft.

Levis threw for 2,406 yards, 19 touchdowns and 10 interceptions while completing 65.4% of his passes during 11 appearances in 2021. The quarterback previously displayed his rushing ability notching 376 yards and nine touchdowns in 2021. This was not the case in 2022 as Levis posted negative rushing yards last season, but it is important to keep in mind that sacks count against rushing yards in college.

Will Levis Is Unlikely to Slide Outside the Top-10 Picks

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This scenario has appeal for the Bucs as the team lands their potential quarterback of the future without giving up an additional first-round pick. The likelihood of this playing out on draft day is slim with so many quarterback-needy teams picking ahead of Tampa Bay. Given the shakiness of Mac Jones in 2022, the Patriots may be inclined to select Levis for their own franchise if he surprisingly is still on the board at No. 14.

ESPN’s Todd McShay noted that Levis’ pro day served as a reminder that the former Wildcats signal-caller is still a work in progress. With Baker Mayfield and Kyle Trask already on the roster, there is less pressure on Levis to start in Week 1.

“Really, the workout reminded me of his tape. There were “wow” throws, but then he missed on ball location on others,” McShay detailed on March 24. “He has the traits to do so many things that Young and Stroud can’t, but evaluators are wondering if he will be able to figure out the mechanics.

“… Bottom line is Levis obviously still has refining to do when it comes to mechanics, but you can’t coach his arm, size and mobility. The rest will come with time, but the weak spots are fixable and coachable if he ends up in the right situation.”

Will Levis Is Drawing Comparisons to Former NFL QB Jay Cutler

As for a pro comparison,’s Lance Zierlein views Levis as similar to another former polarizing quarterback: Jay Cutler. The Buccaneers would need to decide if Levis’ lack of polish is worth trading up for instead of reassessing the position in 2024 in what could be a deeper quarterback class led by USC’s Caleb Williams and North Carolina’s Drake Maye.

“Levis is one of the most physically gifted quarterbacks in the draft, but there are warts in his game that might not be easily corrected. He has prototypical size and experience operating in a pro-style passing attack,” Zierlein said of Levis in his pre-draft profile.

“He’s an athletic passer, with the ability to zip off-platform throws with plus velocity from a compact release. He struggled to put together an extended period of high-caliber quarterback play in 2022, but was also dealing with injuries that he fought his way through for much of the season. Levis has the arm to beat coverages on all three levels, but inadequate placement and accuracy have created a lot of uncatchable throws.”

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