Will Levis’ first significant action this weekend ignited the dormant pilot light under the Tennessee Titans offense, throwing for 238 yards, four touchdowns and, just as importantly, no picks. Sure, his No. 1 receiver DeAndre Hopkins came away with one offensive pass interference to the opening score, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t pleasantly surprised. Levis’ stock fell after a disappointing year as a fifth-year senior, but his performance Sunday cements hand size as the new pseudoscientific measure of football evaluation.
Six months ago, Levis was collecting dust in the green room, waiting for his name to be called in the first round. Reddit disinformation Before the draft, Levis was selected first overall by the Carolina Panthers, ahead of CJ Stroud and Bryce Young. That clearly didn’t happen. He also wasn’t picked second overall by Houston.
Levis’ free fall continued into the second day when Titans GM Ran Carthon traded up for the first pick in the second round, throwing him into the Titans’ free-for-all at quarterback with Ryan Tannehill and Malik Wilis. The country that watches quarterbacks’ worst moments in slow motion tends to produce proven quarterbacks. Those seconds should stretch into minutes and hours should feel like days. By the time it was over for Levis, his sisters and girlfriend were part of the pop culture zeitgeist and he was mentally 30.
The placebo of a long stay in a green room is analogous to staying at a Holiday Inn giving quarterbacks a little extra energy to thrive. If Levis can prove that Sunday was more than a fluke, he will join an illustrious group of quarterbacks who showed up on the draft in their finest clothes only to find themselves in limbo when the picks passed them by.
Staying in the green room is a powerful predictor of future success. A decade ago, Geno Smith stuck around long enough to read A dance with dragons. Smith’s numbers in the opening month of his senior season propelled him to the forefront of the Heisman race. However, his stock plummeted due to closer scrutiny of the number of bubble screens and short throws he completed against soft competition at the West Virginia Air Raid, as well as concerns about his small hands. After a rocky start to his career with the Giants and Jets, Smith has made an excellent recovery in Seattle.
Before he became a quack, Aaron Rodgers was the symbol of the Draft Day stumble. In 2005, San Francisco spent the draft evaluation period choosing between Rodgers and Alex Smith as their No. 1 overall pick. However, after Alex Smith’s name was called, Rodgers sank like a rock and didn’t hit bottom until Green Bay picked him up at 24th overall. Smith had a great career, but the Niners picked poorly while Rodgers changed the quarterback position.
In 2019, Lamar Jackson’s fall to the left was equally painful to watch. The former Heisman Trophy winner was one of the most exciting dual-threat passers in college football, but there were concerns about his ability to function in a professional offense. Even the Ravens drafted a 24-year-old blocking tight end ahead of their future MVP.
Brady Quinn and Johnny Manziel are the only two quarterbacks to endure an extended stay in the green room and not get out, but those were picks by the Cleveland Browns, which counters the Green Room effect. Believe me, the science is valid. The next time you see a highly touted quarterback attend the draft convinced he could hug Roger Goodell and end up in the second round of the draft, you can probably trust that they will eventually prove everyone wrong.
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