No, Mac Jones isn’t going anywhere or in danger of losing his starting job. He does, however, have some new company in the quarterback room.
The Patriots selected Western Kentucky record-setter Bailey Zappe in the fourth round (137th overall) of the NFL Draft on Saturday.
Zappe set the single-season all-time record with 5,967 passing yards and 62 passing touchdowns this past year for the Hilltoppers. The 6-foot-1, 23-year-old QB, who starred at Houston Baptist before finishing his career at WKU, is an intriguing prospect who has a chance to emerge as the team’s No. 2 option.
“This is something that I’ve been dreaming for since I first started playing at 5,” Zappe said.
He wasn’t highly recruited but has blossomed into a star.
Zappe, who grew up in Victoria, Texas, had just one scholarship offer out of high school, but it ended up working out just fine.
He made nine starts as a freshman at Houston Baptist, started all 11 games as a sophomore, and earned All-Southland Conference honorable mention. Then, he led the nation with 35 regular-season TD passes as a junior in 2019.
In only four games during a shortened 2020 season, he racked up 15 touchdown passes and threw just one interception while throwing 458 passing yards per game.
Zappe one-upped himself in 2021 in a new uniform, piecing together an historic season en route to Conference USA Most Valuable Player honors. The next closest in passing TDs was Alabama’s Bryce Young, who had 15 fewer.
He has a chance to be QB2 and learn from Mac Jones.
Zappe has a prime opportunity to compete for the backup role.
Brian Hoyer, 36, plays more of a mentor role now, and Jarrett Stidham hasn’t lived up to expectations to this point.
Zappe is viewed as a player who has the potential to at least be a dependable backup throughout his career, and potentially more, but some question whether he’ll ever become a starter. He doesn’t pay too much attention to that.
“I don’t really worry about the naysayers and the critics,” Zappe said. “The Patriots believe in me … Those are the people that I’m going to try to prove right.”
He said he’s excited to get to know Jones, Hoyer, and Stidham and soak in wisdom from everyone in the organization.
“He’s a phenomenal quarterback,” Zappe said of Jones. “He’s a great QB, as are the rest of the QBs in that room. I’m really looking forward to learning from all three of those guys and getting up there and meeting them.”
He’s part of a much larger trend.
According to Warren Sharp, this is only the second time since 1990 that a team has drafted a top-15 QB and then used a top-140 pick on a QB the next year.
However, others argue to not read too much into the decision, as the Patriots have a history of drafting QBs.
Zappe is the eighth quarterback the team has taken since 2010 (Jones, Stidham, Danny Etling, Jacoby Brissett, Jimmy Garoppolo, Ryan Mallett, and Zac Robinson), which is tied for the most with the New York Jets.
He topped the Wonderlic Test among QBs.
Zappe scored 35, just ahead of Sam Howell (34) and Malik Willis (32) and well ahead of everyone else whose results surfaced.
He’s viewed as an intelligent quarterback who makes wise decisions with the football.
“With the offense engrained in him, Zappe was a rhythmic decision-maker in college and knew where to go with the football and how to stay on time,” The Athletic‘s Dane Brugler wrote.
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