The New England Patriots don't care about narrative. A year after selecting Mac Jones in the first round, the team turned around and selected another quarterback, Western Kentucky's Bailey Zappe, in the fourth round of the 2022 NFL draft.
The move comes as a surprise considering the team's commitment to Jones. Zappe is not expected to push Jones for the starting job, though taking him in the fourth round suggests the Patriots see upside in Zappe.
Zappe made those skills evident last season. He threw an NCAA record 62 touchdowns at Western Kentucky, beating Joe Burrow's record of 60. Zappe also passed for an NCAA record 5,967 yards during his senior year.
Despite those numbers, Zappe was not considered an elite quarterback prospect. He gets high marks for his intelligence and accuracy, but lacks the physical traits most teams desire in a starting quarterback.
Some notes on Bailey Zappe from evaluators:
— “If I was picking a QB for my flag football team, my top choice.”
— “Insanely smart.”
— “Ball gets out of his hand so fast.”
— “Will be a great backup forever." https://t.co/bYZRA4EUdO
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 30, 2022
Zappe is expected to compete for a backup role behind Jones. The Patriots still have Brian Hoyer and Jarrett Stidham on the roster, and one of those players could be on the way out if Zappe impresses during camp.
Mac Jones still expected to be Patriots' starter
Jones is coming off a promising rookie season after being selected with the No. 15 overall pick in the 2021 draft. He threw 22 touchdowns against 13 interceptions in 17 games. That performance was enough to lead the Patriots back to the playoffs. The team played one game in the postseason, losing to the Buffalo Bills in the wild-card game.
Jones had a few strong games in 2021, but it felt as though the Patriots treated him with kid gloves for a portion of the season. Jones will look to build on his rookie performance in 2022. He'll have to do so without long-time Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who left in the offseason to coach the Las Vegas Raiders.