With Mac Jones producing an impressive rookie season in 2021, the New England Patriots appear set at the quarterback position for years to come. There are some questions behind the former first-round draft pick, which prompted the team to make an investment on Day 3 of this year’s college player selection meeting.
That investment came in the form of Western Kentucky quarterback Bailey Zappe. Let’s take a closer look at him, and what his selection means for the Patriot’ quarterback depth chart.
Name: Bailey Zappe
School: Western Kentucky (RS-Senior)
Opening day age: 23
Size: 6004, 215 lbs, 31 3/8 arm, 74 3/4 wingspan, 9 3/4 hand
Measurements: 4.88 40-yard dash, 30” vertical jump, 9’1” broad jump, 4.4 short shuttle, 7.19 3-cone, N/A bench press
Career: Despite totaling 52 touchdowns his senior year, Zappe was a no-star recruit coming out of high school. His only scholarship offer came from Houston Baptist, and he spent the first four years of his college career with the Huskies. He started 36 games, posting some impressive numbers: a 60.9 percent completion rate with 10,004 passing yards as well as 78 touchdowns and 39 interceptions.
Zappe probably would have gotten some looks had he entered the NFL at that point, but he instead decided to take advantage of the NCAA’s extra year of eligibility due to Covid-19 and transferred to Western Kentucky. A smart decision: Zappe went on to re-write the record books during his lone season in Bowling Green, completing 69.2 percent of his pass attempts for 5,967 yards, 62 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
Strengths: An experienced player with some outstanding production on his résumé, Zappe is a good rhythm passer. He has good reactionary skills and eyes, a quick release, and the accuracy and touch to put his receivers in favorable positions.
Weaknesses: At 6-foot-0, 215 pounds, Zappe is undersized by conventional NFL standards and lacks any impressive athletic tools. He also does not have the most powerful arm, and might have a harder time hitting tight-window throws. He also needs to learn playing from under center.
What is his projected role in New England? Every year there is a handful of quarterbacks that are projected to move positions at the next level. Bailey Zappe is not one of those players because he a) is a solid if unspectacular quarterback prospect and b) lacks the athletic skills to play another spot. Bailey will start his career as a developmental backup with limited starter upside.
Where does he fit on the quarterback depth chart? With Mac Jones locked into the starting spot and veteran backup Brian Hoyer re-signed in free agency, the top of the team’s depth chart is set in stone. Zappe will serve as the third option at the position, likely replacing current QB3 Jarrett Stidham. Stidham is entering the final year of his rookie contract and appears to be a candidate for a trade.
Does he have positional versatility? Zappe offers virtually no versatility. He might be used in different spots on trick plays, but his lack of any impressive athletic traits will hinder him being moved around outside of those. Zappe is a quarterback, and he will be used as such.
What is his special teams value? His lack of versatility extends to the kicking game. Zappe might be used as a backup holder behind punter Jake Bailey on field goal and extra point attempts, a role the Patriots have regularly given to their QBs. Tom Brady held on occasion, as did Matt Cassel. That said, before Zappe takes over the backup spot behind Mac Jones he likely will not be trusted in that capacity: only one other quarterback alongside Jones would make the game-day roster on a week-to-week basis.
One-sentence verdict: With Brian Hoyer 36 and Jarrett Stidham in a contract year, Zappe gives New England some longer-term perspective at the QB2 perspective.
How would you grade the Patriots’ selection of QB Bailey Zappe at No. 137?
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