Draft experts believe Bailey Zappe projects as a career backup, but don’t expect the Patriots rookie to resign himself to that fate.
New England used a fourth-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft to select Zappe, a smart, intangibles-first quarterback out of Western Kentucky. Despite putting up absurd numbers in college, Zappe is viewed as little more than Brian Hoyer 2.0. And there’s value in that, as being the franchise quarterback of the Patriots doesn’t guarantee Mac Jones will have Tom Brady-like durability.
However, WKU head coach Tyson Helton believes Zappe understandably has higher aspirations.
“(Zappe) is definitely every single day trying to take another man’s job — no matter who that guy is in front of him,” Helton told Patriots Wire’s Henry McKenna last Tuesday. “I think it’s awesome that he has an opportunity to say” ‘OK, here’s an established starter in Mac Jones, who’s a very, very good player.’ I admire him as well. I think he’ll play for a long time and be very successful.
“But I think you’ve got two great men at the helm that can make each other better every single day and compete every single day. Competition brings out the best in everybody. I think they’ll be great for each other and it’ll be great for Bailey to not have that pressure out of the game where he needs to be a starter. … There’s no question in my mind that from Day 1, he’s going to push whoever is in front of him.”
That New England drafted another quarterback, a year after taking Jones with the 15th overall pick, shouldn’t surprise anyone. The Patriots regularly used mid-round picks on projected backup quarterbacks during Brady’s time in Foxboro. Barring injury or some unforeseen, glaring decline during training camp, Jones will be New England’s starting quarterback this season. He looked like the real deal during his rookie campaign.
But don’t rule out the possibility of Zappe making things interesting in the near future. Far stranger things have happened than an unheralded draft pick unseating a franchise quarterback — especially in New England.