No, Mac Jones isn’t going anywhere or he’s in danger of losing his starting job. He, however, has a new companion in the quarterback room.
The Patriots selected Western Kentucky’s record-holder Bailey Zappe in the fourth round (137th overall) of the NFL Draft on Saturday.
Zappe set the all-time record in a single season with 5,967 yards and 62 touchdowns last year for the Hilltoppers. The 23-year-old, 6’8″ QB, who played for Houston Baptist before ending his WKU career, is an intriguing prospect that has a chance to emerge as the team’s No. 2 option.
“This is something I’ve been dreaming about since I started playing at age 5,” Zappe said.
He wasn’t highly recruited, but he became a star.
Zappe, who grew up in Victoria, Texas, was only offered a high school scholarship, but it ended up working.
He made nine starts as a rookie for Houston Baptist, started all 11 games his sophomore year, and earned an All-Southland Conference honorable mention. Then, he led the nation with 35 TD passes in the regular season as a junior in 2019.
In just four games during a shortened 2020 season, he racked up 15 touchdown passes and made just one interception while throwing 458 yards per game.
Zappe excelled in 2021 in a new kit, putting together a historic season on his way to US Conference Most Valuable Player honors. Next closest to passing TDs was Alabama’s Bryce Young, who was 15 short.
He has a chance to be QB2 and learn from Mac Jones.
Zappe has an excellent opportunity to compete for the reserve role.
Brian Hoyer, 36, plays more of a mentor role now, and Jarrett Stidham hasn’t lived up to expectations so far.
Zappe is seen as a player who has the potential to at least be a reliable backup throughout his career, and potentially more, but some question whether he will be a starter. He doesn’t pay much attention to it.
“I don’t really care about naysayers and critics,” Zappe said. “The Patriots believe in me… These are the people I’m going to try to prove right.”
He said he’s excited to meet Jones, Hoyer and Stidham and absorb the wisdom of everyone in the organization.
“He’s a phenomenal quarterback,” Zappe said of Jones. “He’s a great QB, just like the rest of the QBs in that room. I’m really looking forward to learning from all three of these guys and getting out there and meeting them.”
It is 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 following year.
However, others argue not to read too much into the decision, as the Patriots have a history of drafting QBs.
Zappe is the team’s eighth quarterback since 2010 (Jones, Stidham, Danny Etling, Jacoby Brissett, Jimmy Garoppolo, Ryan Mallett and Zac Robinson), which is tied with the New York Jets.
He led 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 came to light.
He is seen as a smart quarterback who makes wise decisions with football.
“With offense ingrained in him, Zappe was a rhythmic decision maker in college and knew where to go with football and how to stay in time.” Atleticowrote Dane Brugler.
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