NFL News: Former NFL GM Praises Patriots' Bailey Zappe

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Tristin McKinstry

When the New England Patriots selected Western Kentucky quarterback Bailey Zappe in the 2022 NFL Draft, some people were caught off guard. ESPN's draft coverage host was among them, saying "Help me understand this pick -- especially after selecting Mac Jones in the first round the year before, and with other notable needs, particularly on defense."

However, not everyone was caught off guard. Former NFL Executive of the Year Randy Mueller has commented on why this selection not only wasn't surprising but may have been a smart move.

Lots Of Positives

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"I wasn't surprised. At that point in the draft, you're trying to identify traits with players that maybe not everybody sees. And I think Bill [Belichick] and his crew have done as good a job at that as any, across the board at all positions," Mueller said, via ESPN.

The former New Orleans Saints GM continued, "I see a lot of positives in Bailey Zappe. When you get to the third day of the draft, I think it's too much to turn your back on, regardless of position. Everybody seems to want to fill needs throughout [the draft], but I'm more about getting the best group of players and not bypassing good players to fill needs. And I think Bailey was one of those guys, although I don't think everyone sees that."

Highly Productive

To the Patriots' credit, Zappe was highly productive as a college quarterback. With Houston Baptist, he threw for 10,004 yards, 78 touchdowns, and 39 interceptions.

He transferred to Western Kentucky for his senior season and was still incredibly productive. He threw for 5967 yards, 62 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions. Zappe's 62 touchdown passes were a new FBS record, surpassing Joe Burrow's 60 TDs passes during LSU's national championship season.

'Everyone's Criteria Is Different'

Mueller had a higher view of the new Patriots signal-caller than most. He has him as the second-best quarterback in the draft, behind Pittsburgh's Kenny Pickett.

"Everyone's criteria is always a little different, but what I saw is a guy who sees, anticipates and processes, all from the pocket, combined with some accuracy and the ability to make all the throws because he has plenty of arm," Mueller said.

"The other guys, for me, there's a leap of faith in the ability to process, to anticipate, to throw on time and to still be athletic enough to move within the pocket," he said.

Patriots QB Room

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The Patriots quarterback situation was already clear before the selection of Zappe. Jones would be the starter after a very impressive rookie campaign. Behind him, Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer were on the depth chart.

The selection of Zappe was thought to spell the end of either Stidham or Hoyer, and it did. Stidham was traded to the Las Vegas Raiders, reuniting with former offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.

With Hoyer's career winding down, Zappe looks to be the team's backup for the time being. There's enough potential there that another team may end up trading for him to have him be their starter, similar to Jimmy Garoppolo's situation in New England.