2022 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Bailey Zappeby Mason Thompson February 3, 2022 1 comment
The 2022 NFL Draft is full of intriguing quarterback prospects. There are plenty of prospects that could develop into franchise signal-callers, but there isn’t a consensus top prospect. A player that could see his name rise through the ranks this week at the Senior Bowl is Western Kentucky’s Bailey Zappe.
Unfortunately for Zappe, he didn’t have much of a recruiting following as the rest of the class at the quarterback position has had. The Victoria, Texas native found a home nearby at Houston Baptist. In his three years there, Zappe improved each year, and in his final two seasons, he combined for over 5,600 yards, 50 touchdowns, and only 16 interceptions, including only one interception in the 2020 season. Zappe transferred to Western Kentucky this year and set FBS records with 5,967 passing yards and 62 passing touchdowns, only behind Central’s (IA) Blaine Hawkins, who had 63, for most in a single season. This week in Mobile, Zappe could be one of the players with the most to gain from practices and in the game and improve his draft stock into the day two conversation.
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Name: Bailey Zappe
Jersey: No. 4
School: Western Kentucky
Class: Redshirt Senior
Weight: 213 lbs
Games Watched: Indiana (2021), Michigan State (2021), Old Dominion (2021), Rice (2021), Marshall (2021)
Major Injury History: None
Arm Talent (11.75/15)
Zappe doesn’t have the greatest arm strength compared to some of the other prospects in this class. Many have even said he doesn’t have average arm strength. From the games viewed, Zappe doesn’t have the most zip on his passes but can throw some passes over 50 yards downfield. While he isn’t the most accurate on those passes, there were a few occasions where Zappe could launch passes downfield, and the ball would wind up in the receiver’s hands.
Zappe is a player that won’t work the deep areas of the field often. In the games against Indiana and Michigan State, there were hardly any passes thrown deep down the field. In the Old Dominion game, he came out throwing balls deep, which was a surprise at first. Zappe is best working the short to intermediate game due to his arm strength. While this is a concern, we have seen teams work around this in the NFL. Both Joe Burrow and Jalen Hurts don’t have the greatest arm strength, with Burrow looking like an elite quarterback early in his career despite that issue.
He has good accuracy. Zappe doesn’t have pinpoint accuracy, but he does have good accuracy compared to some of the top quarterbacks in the class. While he is good in this regard, there were a few cases where there would be an open receiver, and Zappe would miss them by a few yards. Zappe is strong enough in this regard to succeed at the next level.
Decision Making (13/15)
Zappe had a clear understanding grasp of the playbook. He would see the defense aligned a certain way and audible to another play. He wasn’t a player that was going to force the ball downfield unless there was ample time and space and would take what was given to him, even if it meant running the ball himself. Zappe is a signal-caller that understands when to throw the ball away when he is in danger of being tackled from behind. There were plenty of occasions of this occurring in the five games watched.
Many of the plays in the Western Kentucky offense were designed plays to get the ball out of Zappe’s hand almost immediately. With that said, there were also plenty of times when the offense tasked Zappe with going through his progressions. He would often get to his third or fourth read on these plays before finding an open option. The system at Western Kentucky will not likely translate to the next level. For Zappe, it was nice to see that he has had experience in college working through his progressions.
Pocket Awareness (8.75/10)
Zappe almost always works inside the pocket. It is rare to see him make a throw from outside of the pocket. He isn’t a statue, but he is far more comfortable within the tackle box and making reads without much disruption from the defense. Zappe manipulates defensive linemen with some pump fakes when he sees a defender potentially in the throwing lane. He stays calm and poised in the pocket, but there were a few times where he would leave the pocket without needing to. There was also a time or two where he held on to the ball too long and took a sack.
Touch is by far the best trait for Zappe. There were plenty of throws where Zappe would throw a ball downfield, and it would land in the bucket of the receiver without the defensive back having a chance to break the pass up. He can put a ball over or between defenders so that only the receiver could get to the ball. Another thing here is his placement. Zappe can put the ball in places where only the receiver would snag it, be it on the outside shoulder or a high-point for a taller receiver against a shorter one.
Out of Structure (5/10)
When Zappe is forced to make plays when a play breaks down, it either works decently or badly. There was a bad snap in one of the games where he forced a throw to his tight end, and the defensive back read it the whole way for an interception. Outside of his comfort zone, Zappe struggles to get into a groove. When he’s in a groove, it is almost impossible to defend.
Zappe is far from a mobile quarterback. His comfort zone is inside the pocket, and he struggles to make accurate throws outside the pocket. Zappe can run for additional yardage, but don’t expect him to look very fast. There were only a handful of times when he needed to use his legs to get the yardage needed for a first down, and is one of the weakest attributes in his game.
Zappe has a firm base and rarely throws off his back foot. He doesn’t have an abnormally long throwing motion. A concern is that the ball doesn’t necessarily fly out of his hand.
Zappe is a quarterback that has a limited ceiling at the next level. His arm strength and lack of mobility will hurt him in today’s league. His best attributes are his decision-making, pocket awareness, and touch. Zappe should primarily work the short and intermediate areas of the field in the passing game due to his less than great arm strength. He is a pure pocket passer and struggles to make plays outside the pocket. Thankfully, Zappe does have a strong floor, so if does have to start, he will likely keep the team within range to win. He will likely be a backup during his rookie season and could work his way up to a starting position.
Rookie Projection: Backup Quarterback
Third Year Projection: Low-Level Starter
Final Grade (76.25/100): Fourth Round
Player Comp: Case Keenum