It’s a wide-open quarterback class ahead of the 2022 NFL Draft, as has been the story since the beginning of the season. But, for the most part, analysts have settled on Kenny Pickett or Malik Willis being the first passer off the board. With the amount of uncertainty and traits to be desired from several signal-callers in this year’s crop, it’s easy to get the sense a team could snag a quarterback later on than the first or second round and end up with a steal. Looking at quarterbacks who are expected to be fifth off the board at the position or lower, Bailey Zappe of WKU stands out the most. Zappe etched his way into the FBS record books this past season with just shy of 6,000 passing yards and 62 touchdowns with only 11 interceptions on 686 passing attempts. The biggest knocks on Zappe—despite the fact he had put up those historical numbers—were that he played in a smaller conference against “lesser competition” and that perhaps playing in a form of the Air Raid offense had boosted his numbers into something that didn’t reflect the way he delivered on the field. The latter couldn’t have been farther from the truth, as the film reflects. The chemistry he had with wide receiver Jerreth Sterns—who is an underrated prospect himself—did help, but Zappe’s numbers weren’t a result of his supporting cast alone. https://twitter.com/PFF_College/status/1490085821545865227 Zappe had a chance to prove his doubters wrong and continue to make a case for himself at the Reese’s Senior Bowl. He had some difficulty during the first practice with some short and intermediate passes at several points but looked entirely like himself after the first day. That proved he could hang in another type of offense, under different coaches, with an entirely different group of players, going up against some of the best defensive prospects in the nation. Part of the reason why Zappe transitioned so well has to do with the fact he’s already had to make a transition before—he spent just that one storybook season at WKU after spending four seasons at Houston Baptist, which ran a simpler form of the Air Raid. It’s safe to say the numbers reflect how well he picked up on some of the added pieces. “At WKU, they put a lot more on my plate,” Zappe said. “I think when we got to WKU, we integrated a lot of power run scheme… Your powers, your counters, all of that. At HBU, we kind of did more inside zone, outside zone. We had a little bit more run game when we got to WKU intermixed with that Air Raid—everybody thinks we’re just straight Air Raid.” Head coach Tyson Helton, who spent one year with the quarterback, calls him the best he’s ever worked with because of his mental processing ability, talent as a pure passer, understanding of protections, and reading defenses, among a host of other reasons. “You’re talking about a guy who can throw the ball all over the park and it reminded me of Sam Darnold,” Helton said. “Sam Darnold was a great talent at USC and could throw it all over the park, too. Sam could check to a run and move the chains and do all that and Bailey has that in him as well where he can say ‘I’m going to check to a run here and move the chains or get an explosive play off the run.” Whatever team ends up drafting Zappe is getting a well-developed, well-experienced passer who does have some ability to move and has maintained a high level of consistency throughout his career. Zappe has laid about as solid of a foundation as one could ask for from a quarterback and considering that he’s mostly projected in the middle or later rounds, he’s going to be a high-value pick at that place on the board.
- Aug 08, 2022
- Aug 05, 2022