Levis goes quick, Hooker waits longer on Day 2 of NFL draft
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Will Levis quickly got the call he waited on for 24 hours. Hendon Hooker had to sit around a few more hours to hear his name announced.
After Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud and Anthony Richardson were selected in the first four picks, it took two more rounds for the top five quarterbacks to be off the board in the NFL draft.
The selections of Levis by Tennessee and Hooker by Detroit highlighted a Friday night filled with plenty of trades and some surprises.
Day 2 of the draft at Union Station in downtown Kansas City kicked off with family ties. The Pittsburgh Steelers selected Penn State cornerback Joey Porter Jr. with the first pick of the second round. His dad, Joey Porter, was a three-time Pro Bowl linebacker in eight seasons with Pittsburgh.
Then the Titans traded up and took Levis with the 33rd overall pick. The former Kentucky quarterback didn’t stick around in the green room after a grueling night Thursday waiting with his girlfriend and family.
They went back to Connecticut for a family gathering Saturday and Levis had just walked in the door and grabbed a bite to eat after a long day of travel when he got the call.
“I was a crying mess but it was so funny,” Levis said. “We’re all in our airport clothes, a very different atmosphere compared to getting dressed up with the nice suits and dresses last night. But this is what was meant to be and I was ecstatic to get the call.”
Levis was expected to go in the top 15, with some draft analysts projecting him in the top five. A few days before the draft, oddsmakers even made Levis the favorite to be the second QB selected behind Young.
Young went first to Carolina, Stroud was picked second by Houston and Richardson was selected at No. 4 by Indianapolis.
The Titans didn't take Levis at No. 11 but they weren’t going to pass him up again. They were aggressive, making a deal with the Arizona Cardinals to get their guy.
“Last night was tough, but I stayed positive," Levis. “When I saw that they traded up for me, that alone was telling that they wanted me, they wanted this to happen.”
The 6-foot-4, 230-pound Levis has prototypical size and athleticism. He’s got a strong arm and muscular build. But his accuracy and decision-making were inconsistent, especially last season when he played through injuries.
Levis, who played two seasons at Kentucky after transferring from Penn State, won’t have to play right away in Tennessee. The Titans have veteran Ryan Tannehill. They also drafted Malik Willis in the third round last year.
Hooker sat until the third round before the Lions took him with the 68th overall pick. Hooker is coming off surgery for a torn ACL and the Lions have Jared Goff, who made his third Pro Bowl last season.
Hooker, like Levis, was projected to go higher in the draft. But he's 25 years old and is returning from a knee injury. Hooker is considered the best deep-ball passer in the draft, can create plays scrambling and is a leader. He threw just five interceptions at Tennessee, though he fumbled 22 times.
“He was in consideration earlier but we wanted to get more capital to do more things,” Lions general manager Brad Holmes said of waiting to take Hooker. “We were holding our breath and it worked out.”
With Steelers fans waving their yellow “Terrible Towels” among a crowd of more than 100,000 mostly red-clad Chiefs fans, Hall of Fame offensive lineman Alan Faneca started the night by announcing Porter was the first pick of the second round.
Then, teams continued playing let's make a deal with the Titans moving up eight spots for Levis.
The aggressive Lions snagged Iowa tight end Sam LaPorta (34th) and Alabama safety Brian Branch (45th) in the second round after choosing Alabama running back Jahmyr Gibbs (12th) and Iowa linebacker Jack Campbell (18th) in the first round.
The Los Angeles Rams, who haven't made a first-round selection since taking Goff No. 1 in 2016, made their first pick of the draft at No. 36, taking TCU offensive lineman Steve Avila.
Denver's first pick was Oklahoma wide receiver Marvin Mims at 63rd. New Broncos coach Sean Payton high-fived staff members in the draft room after the pick.
The defending NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles, who walked away with Georgia defensive linemen Jalen Carter (No. 9) and Nolan Smith (No. 30), made more trades and ended up with consecutive picks early in the third round. They took Alabama offensive lineman Tyler Steen at No. 65 and Illinois safety Sydney Brown after him.
The hometown Super Bowl champion Chiefs moved up in the second round to grab another target for Patrick Mahomes, selecting SMU wide receiver Rashee Rice with the 55th pick.
Five running backs went in the second and third rounds after two were chosen in the top 12 picks for the first time since 2017.
The San Francisco 49ers made their first pick at No. 88, taking Penn State defensive back Ji'Ayir Brown. They made Michigan's Jake Moody the first kicker off the board at No. 99.
The Niners could do that after getting their QB, Brock Purdy, with the last pick last year.
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Rob Maaddi, The Associated Press