They’re looking ahead to see how all the new pieces might fit into together in the new schemes being implemented by Brian Daboll, Mike Kafka, and Wink Martindale.
The Draft Community, however, is starting to get to work on preliminary scouting for the 2023 draft. Scouts are getting to work on next year’s prospects’ tape, and mock drafters are offering their way-too-early thoughts on how the 2023 draft could go.
ESPN’s Todd McShay released his “WAY-too-early” 2023 Mock Draft (ESPN+ exclusive content) on Thursday morning.
McShay is predicting that things get back to normal in the first round, with four passers going in his first eight picks. That’s a stark turnaround after we saw just one quarterback drafted before the third round of the 2022 draft (Kenny Pickett, 20th overall to the Pittsburgh Steelers).
The fourth quarterback off the board in McShay’s draft is taken by the Giants.
8. New York Giants - Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
The Giants didn’t pick up Daniel Jones’ fifth-year option, which leaves the QB seat up for grabs next season. Levis needs to find more consistency, but he has a live arm and a big 6-foot-3, 232-pound frame. He has thrived in the quick game at Kentucky, with a lot of run-pass options and screen-type stuff, but there are some Josh Allen-like traits here for new Giants coach Brian Daboll. Oh, and Levis connected with receiver Wan’Dale Robinson — whom the Giants drafted in Round 2 this year — 104 times last season.
We are less than a week removed from the start of the 2022 NFL Draft, which means we’re once again in Mock Draft Season. Obviously fans have had enough of a break from mock drafts that they once again have a ravenous appetite for future draft speculation.
Well, McShay is the biggest name to put out a mock draft, so we should probably talk about it.
Looking at the prospect himself, Levis certainly looks like an NFL quarterback. He’s listed at 6-foot-3, 223 pounds, and he has a reputation for a strong arm and he his 107 rushing attempts speaks to the mobility modern offenses are looking for.
Levis started his career at Penn State, but only completed 61 passes (102 attempts) for 644 yards with 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions in his three years there. He transferred to Kentucky for the 2021 season and found significantly more success as a full-time starter. Levis went 233 of 353 last year (66 percent completion) for 2,826 yards, 24 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Those 107 rushing attempts only picked up 376 yards, but also 9 touchdowns.
Levis’ size and athleticism are garnering him first-round consideration elsewhere, with both CBS Sports and The Draft Network sending him to the Giants in early 2023 mock drafts. I haven’t done nearly enough work on Levis to say whether or not if he should be a first rounder. I will say that connecting Wan’Dale Robinson and Levis is a shrewd move on McShay’s part.
Reuniting quarterbacks with offensive skill position players is a tactic that’s paid off for teams recently. The most obvious is Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase, who tore up just about every defense they faced this past year. The connection between Jalen Hurts and Devonte Smith proved dangerous down the stretch for the Eagles as well. Reaching back a few years, the rapport Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. established when Beckham was a frequent receiver at the Manning Passing Academy helped pave the way for the pair to re-write record books in their first three seasons together. And looking ahead to 2022, it wouldn’t be surprising if Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne become a dynamic duo in Jacksonville now that Etienne is once again healthy.
The other facet to this pick is Daniel Jones.
Jones is in the final year of his rookie contract after the Giants declined to pick up the (fully guaranteed) $20 million fifth-year option for 2023. He is also on his last chance to show that he should be the Giants’ quarterback for the future. Jones has flashed in his first three years, but they’ve ultimately been a disappointing mix of inconsistency, injury, and mistakes.
Over the last three years, the Giants have invested two first round and two third-round picks in offensive linemen, signed a wide receiver who’s expected be paid $21 million per year over the next three seasons, and spent first and second round picks on receivers in the last two drafts. Put simply, Jones needs to make a significant leap if he wants to earn the $30 million quarterback franchise tag after 2022.
If the Giants, however, are in position to draft a quarterback in 2023, odds are that Jones hasn’t shown himself to be The Guy. Whether that pick is Levis or another passer, obviously, would remain to be seen.