Today we are talking about Western Kentucky Hilltopper Bailey Zappe. Zappe is a senior transfer QB who arrived at Western Kentucky after four seasons at Houston Baptist. The 6’1″, 215 lb QB is a name that many draft fans aren’t super familiar with, but they should be. Zappe is on the 2022 Senior Bowl roster and has the chance to move himself up draft boards while in Mobile. So let’s talk quarterbacks:
Zappe was a record breaking quarterback in 2021, setting the NCAA single season records in passing yards and TDs with 5,967 yards with 62 TDs. Zappe displayed a mastery of Western Kentucky’s Air Raid offense. In the games I was able to watch, Zappe demonstrated ELITE ball placement skills combined with some solid pocket awareness and ability to read the field. He also excels with deep ball accuracy which goes along with the placement ability. Zappe thrived with his ability to anticipate route breaks and the timing of all the throws, he seems to have a great awareness of understanding timing concepts.
Zappe has also shown a good ability to really control his body with his off platform throws. He does a good job of sensing pressure and getting his body realigned to make the throws.
Most of my knocks with Zappe are just due to some limitations. I personally feel like his arm strength is limited and we have seen him struggle with velocity especially throwing outside the numbers. Another question mark with Zappe is that he doesn’t really have the prototypical size; his base is solid but he doesn’t have the ideal size of a prototypical pocket passer at 6’1″, 215 lbs.
Another area where Zappe struggles is with his decision making. Sometimes it seems that he misreads the coverages or trusts in his arm a little too much. This isn’t necessarily a knock, it’s easier to dial back an aggressive player than get one to start taking more shots. But it leads to poor decisions like the INT below.
Zappe is a fun prospect in a weak QB class, so I do expect him to be rated higher by some than he probably should be. Zappe is a QB who brings a confidence to the position that some guys just don’t seem to have. The issue is, his tools are average at best. Because of that, Zappe feels like a guy who will become a long time backup in the NFL and could become a solid bridge guy and spot starter for a franchise in the future, almost a similar role to Colt McCoy or Gardner Minshew. Which means you shouldn’t pass up top talent for Zappe now or in the future until he really proves to you otherwise.
Hunter’s Ideal Landing Spots
My dream landing spots for Zappe are:
- Tennessee Titans
The Titans are a pick here due to them not really needing a QB for a couple of years, which could allow Zappe to develop into a decent option for them as a bridge guy. They have high powered rushing attack which could help take some pressure off of Zappe if he ever had to step in due to injury to Tannehill. Plus with weapons like Julio Jones and AJ Brown, he should be alright.
- Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons are in a different spot than the Titans, with no option on roster at the moment for post Matt Ryan. Zappe would be able to step in as a QB2 for this upcoming season and give the Falcons some form of insurance if they somehow miss on a QB in 2022 or 2023.
- Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins are an absolute dumpster fire at the moment. Tua has missed time with injuries each season so far and Jacoby Brissett is set to become an FA. Zappe could step in and be QB2 and provide a similar skillset to Tua if Tua were to go down with an injury. And if the Dolphins ever decided to move on from Tua in the future, Zappe has the ability to be the bridge/gap guy going forward.
Hunter’s Draft Projection:
Follow Hunter on Twitter @hthompsonNFL.