2023 NFL Draft: Will Lewis is the latest victim of the league’s hype machine, suffering the humiliation of awkward green room shots

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


Earlier this week, someone took to Reddit to claim that University of Kentucky quarterback Will Lewis was “telling friends and family that Carolina is really going to take him on Thursday.”

You might not think an anonymous poster (cellagreeable2834) would be seen on a random thread, let alone taken seriously, but this is the NFL Draft where anything and everything goes.

As such, the fact that someone was claiming inside information that Lewis was going to be the 2023 No. 1 overall draft pick didn’t just become “news.” It actually affects the betting markets (yes, you can bet on this thing).

The odds that Lewis would go first overall to Carolina quickly dropped from 40-to-1 to just 4-to-1 as sports books tried to hedge against that being true.

Lewis actually became the betting favorite to go second to the Houston Texans.

It wasn’t just the bettors though. If Lewis wasn’t placed at the top of the draft, cementing him in the top two picks, mock drafts were also organized accordingly. Websites, radio, television segments and more undoubtedly discuss Lewis as a potential No. 1 and a reasonable No. 2.

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

Well, if you need a reminder on the predictive value of betting markets or mock drafts, let alone Reddit posts, it clearly shows Lewis sitting on a couch in a rapidly emptying NFL Draft green room during a seemingly endless ESPN cutaway, looking natural because he Talked to his family and waited for someone to pick him up.

Carolina, in fact, didn’t pick him first overall (the Panthers went with Alabama QB Bryce Young). Lewis didn’t go No. 2 either – Houston took C.J. Stroud. It didn’t even make the top five or 10 or 20.

Will Lewis, once a 4-to-1 bet to go first overall, was not drafted at all Thursday. He’ll have to wait for Round 2 or (gulp) when the draft resumes on Friday.

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Meanwhile, SaleAgreeable2834 deleted his Reddit account.

Levis is about to be drafted and that should be considered a tremendous accomplishment. The greatest QB of all time finally went 199th. Indeed, Lewis added his name to the long list of people who “slid” into the draft and suffered the embarrassment of being a first-round center. That includes Hall of Famers (Warren Sapp), future Hall of Famers (Aaron Rodgers), and, of course, complete busts (Johnny Manziel).

You never know.

Lewis is a unique circus of its own. He did not fall from his projected position because of character doubts or health issues. That’s one thing.

Lewis’s biggest “red flag” is his tendency to make comedic videos, including the time he ate a banana with a peel or when he put mayonnaise in his coffee.

It seems he was never considered an elite draft prospect by the people who made the draft picks. It turns out that no one wants it. At least not in the first round.

He might be the epitome of the NFL Draft Machine, a name that got so hyped and hyped and hyped up that people were throwing real gambling dollars at him being the No. 1 overall pick.

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

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Yet he was front and center in the NFL’s strange draft hype machine. Will Lewis. Will Lewis. Will Lewis. Day after day.

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

Was any of it true?

The NFL Draft is one of the strangest events in sports. Its coverage is mostly based on “sources” who admit they lie about everything because there is no reason to tell the truth. Honesty is a disadvantage, tipping off team thinking and strategy to competitors.

Still, the entire news cycle is built on the idea that someone is “climbing” or “sliding” into the draft when the draft is still weeks or months away and nothing has happened.

In a vacuum of interest comes nonsense. Mock drafts. Anonymous reports. Fringe media characters. All kinds of mayhem.

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

Fear of milk?

In fact, even cursory research revealed that Lewis only made mayonnaise once as a joke and that he usually takes his coffee with almond milk and stevia, so “scared to death” doesn’t check out.

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

“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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