The New England Patriots reshuffled their quarterback room a bit by selecting Western Kentucky's Bailey Zappe with the 137th overall pick in the fourth round of the 2022 NFL draft.
Mac Jones will head into the 2022 season as the starter, but Zappe's arrival makes the battle for the backup job much more interesting.
Patriots' Offensive Depth Chart
QB: Mac Jones, Bailey Zappe, Brian Hoyer, Jarrett Stidham
RB: Damien Harris, James White, J.J. Taylor, Rhamondre Stevenson, Ty Montgomery, Pierre Strong Jr.
WR 1: DeVante Parker, Nelson Agholor
WR 2: Jakobi Meyers, Tyquan Thornton
WR 3: Kendrick Bourne, N'Keal Harry, Kristian Wilkerson
TE: Jonnu Smith, Hunter Henry
LT: Isaiah Wynn, Justin Herron
LG: Mike Onwenu, Will Sherman
C: David Andrews, James Ferentz
RG: Cole Strange, James Ferentz, Drew Desjarlais
RT: Trent Brown, Mike Onwenu
Zappe transferred from Houston Baptist to Western Kentucky ahead of the 2021 season, and he made his one year with the Hilltoppers count. He was the runaway FBS leader in passing yards (5,967) and passing touchdowns (62), setting single-season records in both categories.
Bailey Zappe set record after record in college. Now he's headed to the <a href="https://twitter.com/Patriots?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Patriots</a>. 🎯 <a href="https://twitter.com/baileyzappe04?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@BaileyZappe04</a><br><br>📺: 2022 <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NFLDraft?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NFLDraft</a> on NFLN/ESPN/ABC <a href="https://t.co/8rc9vk9rv0">pic.twitter.com/8rc9vk9rv0</a>
Brian Hoyer will turn 37 in October, while Jarrett Stidham has struggled in the NFL and has one year left on his rookie deal. There's a chance that neither is on the roster in 2023, so selecting a quarterback in the middle stages of the draft makes sense and continues a general trend.
The bigger surprise might be Patriots head coach Bill Belichick valuing Zappe ahead of North Carolina's Sam Howell and Nevada's Carson Strong, who were both still on the board when New England made its pick.
"Overall, Zappe's mental polish on a number of passing concepts combined with his pocket movement and anticipation on throws project him as a good back-up at the NFL level. His lack of size, arm strength and true athleticism limits his upside and viability to be an every-week starter. But his intelligence and timing would make him a nice addition for a quarterback room, and he could help get a team out of a game if an injury were to happen to their starter. However, those limitations would crop up with tighter windows and more athletic defenders at the NFL level if he had to see extended playing time."
Jones obviously isn't going anywhere. He was the runner-up for Offensive Rookie of the Year after throwing for 3,801 yards and 22 touchdowns. The 23-year-old justified not only the Pats' decision to select him 15th overall in 2021 but also to make him the starter ahead of Cam Newton right out of the gate.
Belichick appears to be thinking multiple steps ahead with Zappe, who can be a long-term solution as the No. 2 behind Jones in the depth chart.