Buccaneers, Falcons To Host QB Will Levis

The division that housed Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Matt Ryan not long ago is going through more changes at the game’s marquee position. Four new starting quarterbacks will take snaps for the four NFC South teams in Week 1, and only the Saints — via the Derek Carr signing — appear to have an unquestioned starter.

The Falcons may come closest here, with both Arthur Smith and Arthur Blank pledging support for 2022 third-round pick Desmond Ridder to remain at the helm. But the team will still do some pre-draft homework. Will Levis is heading to Atlanta this week for a visit, Albert Breer of SI.com tweets. The Kentucky-developed QB will also make a trip to Tampa to meet with the Buccaneers. These visits will occur Wednesday (Bucs) and Thursday (Falcons), NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets.

[RELATED: Seahawks In Play For Levis?]

Todd McShay’s most recent mock draft sends Levis to Tampa, via a trade-up to No. 14. The Bucs hold the No. 19 overall choice, putting them on the fringe of the QB range — for one of the top four arms available, at least — and are planning a Baker MayfieldKyle Trask position battle. A position-player pick would also stand to help Todd Bowles’ roster in 2023, given the uncertainty surrounding Levis. But the team, which is also hosting Hendon Hooker this week, will continue to do its homework.

Smith and Blank have offered considerable support for Ridder opening the season as Atlanta’s starter, despite the team giving Taylor Heinicke a two-year deal worth $14MM. Blank also voiced interest in his team — one that gave Ryan two extensions and Michael Vick one during Blank’s ownership tenure — building around a rookie contract. Ridder would seemingly be that piece, but last year’s 74th overall pick has much to prove.

The Falcons are in better position to make a QB move compared to the Bucs, holding the No. 8 overall pick. Atlanta loomed as one of the top potential Lamar Jackson situations, but the team — like everyone else — has not moved in that direction. Blank detailed his staff’s examination of Jackson, providing a bit more insight compared to most teams’ efforts regarding the franchise-tagged passer. As the Falcons now look to the draft, Levis joins Anthony Richardson as QBs on the team’s pre-draft itinerary.

While Richardson started just one season at Florida, Levis — a Penn State transfer — was Kentucky’s starter for two. Both NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah and ESPN’s Scouts Inc. grade Richardson as this year’s 10th-best prospect; Levis appears 12th and 16th on those respective big boards. Not viewed as having a ceiling level with Richardson, Levis would seemingly be positioned to start for a team quicker. But the 6-foot-4 QB fared better as a junior compared to his senior year, when he threw five fewer TD passes — following Wan’Dale Robinson‘s NFL exit — and did not factor into the run game like he did in 2021.

Foot, shoulder and finger injuries did limit Levis in 2022, adding to the uncertainty surrounding him. But the Connecticut native should still be expected to be a first-round pick. QB-needy teams are doing due diligence. Levis has met with the Texans, Colts and Raiders and will meet with the Panthers and Titans soon. His previously reported Titans meeting is set for Tuesday, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets.

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