On one hand, the New England Patriots deciding to use a fourth-round pick on Western Kentucky quarterback Bailey Zappe when they already had Mac Jones installed as the starter seems like a poor allocation of assets. On the other, it’s easy to see why Bill Belichick fell in love with him.
On top of the fact that Zappe threw for a billion yards in college, his accuracy deep down the field makes him an ideal candidate to lead this offense if Jones was sidelined for any reason. Belichick knows that he needs an ace backup better than Jarrett Stidham in the worst-case scenario of Jones being unable to play.
2022 was generally regarded as a weak quarterback class, as names like Malik Willis and Matt Corral slipped to the third round while Carson Strong went undrafted. The Patriots still thought highly enough of Zappe to use a fourth-round pick on him and give him the phone call of his lifetime.
NFL Films captured Zappe getting that emotional call from Belichick and celebrating with his family. No matter what else happens in his Patriots career, Zappe can say that he was drafted in the fourth round by Belichick. Moments like this are what make the draft awesome.
Bailey Zappe is thrilled to join the New England Patriots.
Zappe’s numbers from his lone season at Western Kentucky look like a misprint. Not only did he break Joe Burrow’s record for touchdown passes in a season with 62 despite playing one fewer game, but he was just 33 yards shy of hitting 6,000. The Houston Baptist transfer was flat-out dominant. His college coach compared him to Drew Brees.
Zappe has some concerns about his overall athletic ability and arm strength, but he excels at getting the ball out of his hands quickly and precisely. That is a much more valuable trait to Belichick than being able to throw the ball 70 yards without any sort of touch.
The Patriots are no stranger to using a mid-round pick on a promising quarterback, but Zappe has the potential to have a better pro career than the likes of Ryan Mallett and Kevin O’Connell. You don’t throw for 6,000 yards without an arm capable of doing some damage in the pros.
The rest of the league may have made a big mistake if Zappe could prove that his gaudy college numbers are the result of his natural talent and not an Air Raid scheme against inferior competition. That clip could be entered into the annals of Patriots history if Zappe is as good as many assume he will be.