Grading Patriots drafting Western Kentucky QB Bailey Zappe in Round 4

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For the second straight offseason, the New England Patriots drafted a quarterback. In 2021, the Patriots took Mac Jones, who New England hopes will be a longtime starter. And in 2022, the Patriots took Bailey Zappe. The expectations for the Western Kentucky quarterback are a little different.

Zappe is a project. In college, he lacked NFL-caliber processing power. That’s likely where New England will go to work with hopes of developing Zappe into a longtime backup and a spot starter. If he ever sees time on the field, the Patriots might just have him ready to play at a high level. And if he does play well, maybe the Patriots can trade him for a higher pick — not unlike what the team has done with quarterbacks in the past.

New England is betting on its ability to draft and develop quarterbacks — not only to use a player like Zappe as a backup but also as a potential source of draft capital in future years.

That’s why I’m giving this selection a grade of C+. I like that he completed 69.2% of his passes for 5,967 yards, 62 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Those numbers are absolutely insane. But the film shows an unremarkable prospect (weak arm strength, unimpressive speed) who plays a position where New England doesn’t have a need.

Maybe the Patriots develop Zappe into the 33rd best quarterback in the NFL. But it’s likely his prospects don’t materialize. And if he doesn’t develop, we’ll be left to wonder why the Patriots didn’t target a developmental offensive lineman (Matt Waletzko, Zack Tom) ahead of their pending contract negotiations with left tackle Isaiah Wynn.

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