2023 NFL Draft: Will Lewis is the latest victim of the league’s hype machine to suffer through embarrassing green room footage

Earlier this week, someone took to Reddit and claimed that University of Kentucky quarterback Will Lewis “told friends and family that Carolina was taking him Thursday.”

You might not think an anonymous poster (SaleAgreeable2834) in a random thread would be noticed, let alone taken seriously, but this is the NFL draft where anything and everything happens.

Thus, the fact that someone claimed inside information that Levis was going to be the No. 1 pick in the 2023 draft became more than just “news.” This actually affected the betting markets (yes, you can bet on this thing).

The odds of Levis taking Carolina first overall quickly dropped from 40-to-1 to just 4-to-1 as sportsbooks tried to hedge against that being true.

Levis actually became the betting favorite going second to the Houston Texans.

It wasn’t just bettors, though. Mock drafts were also adjusted accordingly, if not putting Lewis at the top of the draft, cementing him in the top two picks. Websites, radio, television segments and more discussed Levis as a possible No. 1 and a reasonable No. 2.

Kentucky quarterback Will Lewis waits in the green room with girlfriend Gia Doody for the NFL draft.  It was a long wait.  (AP Photo/Doug Benz)

Kentucky quarterback Will Lewis waits in the green room with girlfriend Gia Doody for the NFL draft. It was a long wait. (AP Photo/Doug Benz)

If you needed a reminder of the predictive value of betting markets or mock drafts, not to mention Reddit posts, it was evident during Thursday’s seemingly endless ESPN clips of Levis sitting on a couch in the quickly-emptying NFL Draft green room and trying to look natural as he spoke to family and was waiting for someone to choose him.

In fact, Carolina didn’t pick him first (the Panthers went with Alabama QB Bryce Young). Lewis also didn’t go No. 2 — Houston took CJ Stroud. He also didn’t make the top five, 10, or 20.

Will Lewis, once a 4-to-1 pick for the No. 1 pick, was not drafted Thursday. He will have to wait until the 2nd round or later when the draft resumes on Friday.

Meanwhile, SaleAgreeable2834 deleted his Reddit account.

Levis will be drafted and should consider it a huge accomplishment. After all, the greatest QB of all time went 199th. And really, all Levis did was add his name to a long list of guys who “slid” in the draft and had to endure becoming an embarrassing first-round focus. That includes a Hall of Famer (Warren Sapp), a future Hall of Famer (Aaron Rodgers) and, of course, a complete bust (Johnny Manziel).

You never know.

Levis is a kind of unique circus. He didn’t fall from his intended spot because of character doubts or health issues. That’s one thing.

Lewis’ biggest red flag is his penchant for making comedic videos, including the time he ate a banana with the peel still on or the time he put mayonnaise in his coffee.

In fact, he never seems to have been considered an elite draft prospect by the people actually doing the draft. Turns out, no one wanted him. At least not in the first round.

He may have been a figment of the imagination of the NFL draft machines, a name that became so hyped and hyped that people actually threw away real gambling dollars because he was the No. 1 overall pick. 1.

Maybe everyone should have seen this coming. He was good at Kentucky, but hardly the best. He began his career at Penn State, was beaten out for the starting job and then transferred to Lexington, where he completed 65.7 percent of his passes and threw 43 touchdowns against 23 interceptions over two seasons.

Still, he was front and center in the NFL’s peculiar draft hype machine. Will Levis. Will Levis. Will Levis. Day by day.

Somewhere along the way he became a credible top five because people said he was a top five.

Was any of this true?

The NFL draft remains one of the strangest events in sports. This is reflected mainly by “sources” who admit to lying about everything because there is no reason to tell the truth. Honesty is a disadvantage, a turning point in team thinking and strategy for competitors.

Yet entire news cycles are based on the idea that someone is “climbing” or “sliding” into a sinkhole when the sinkhole is still weeks or months away and nothing has happened.

Absurdity enters the vacuum of interest. Mock drafts. Anonymous messages. Fringe media characters. All kinds of messes.

At one point, a “draft analyst” reported that Levis had a “deathly fear of milk,” causing teams to worry “how he would fit into an NFL program.”

Afraid of milk?

In fact, even cursory research revealed that Lewis has only made one mayonnaise joke, and he usually drinks coffee with almond milk and stevia, so “deathly afraid” fails.

Not that the story didn’t ricochet around a cycle or two of draft coverage.

“Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet,” Lewis said Wednesday when asked about the Reddit post.

When it comes to the NFL draft, it’s probably best not to believe anything.

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