The New England Patriots went under center to close out the fourth round of the 2022 NFL draft.
The war room did so to select Western Kentucky quarterback Bailey Zappe at No. 137 overall Saturday afternoon.
Here’s an initial glance into why.
FBS record-setter in passing yards and touchdowns
Zappe spent four years at Houston Baptist, where the Victoria, Texas native went from a former no-star recruit to a Walter Payton Award finalist. He then went from the Southland Conference to the Hilltoppers and started 50 games between both stops.
As a graduate student in 2021, Zappe threw for 5,967 yards and 62 touchdowns to set FBS single-season records. By campaign’s end, he had converted on 69.2 percent of his 686 passes on the way to being named Conference USA’s MVP as well as the Boca Raton Bowl’s MVP.
Zappe posted eight games of 400-plus yards, including two games of 500-plus yards, against 11 interceptions. Added on the ground in the air-raid attack were three scores.
“The more we watch, the more we like. He’s a real dude,” Reese’s Senior Bowl executive director Jim Nagy, a former Patriots scout, said of Zappe last fall.
Zappe accepted his invitation to Mobile and practiced on an American roster featuring Liberty’s Malik Willis and North Carolina’s Sam Howell at quarterback.
From there, the 6-foot, 215-pound Zappe attended the NFL Scouting Combine, where he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.88 seconds and the three-cone drill in 7.19 seconds.
Adding a developmental layer to the quarterback room
The Patriots began the offseason workout program with a quarterback depth chart of three. And behind Mac Jones, who completed 67.6 percent of his attempts for 22 touchdowns, 13 interceptions and 3,801 yards as a rookie starter, an added layer proved to be a value.
Veteran Brian Hoyer re-signed on a two-year deal worth $4 million prior to free agency. The extension of the coaching staff will turn 37 in October, and stands in his third tour with the organization he joined as an undrafted free agent in 2009.
But Jarrett Stidham stood among the inactives last season after returning from back surgery and the physically unable to perform list. The arrival from the fourth round of the 2019 class now enters the final year of his deal having appeared in eight career games. New England’s next opportunity to develop a long-term backup was taken Saturday.
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