Quarterback Wars: Zappe Days

Welcome back NFL Draft enthusiasts to another encounter of Quarterback Wars. In our last meeting we talked about Desmond Ridder and his revenge tour. As I was thinking about who would be the best QB to discuss next, I thought who is a confusing prospect.

Western Kentucky QB Bailey Zappe is one confusing prospect. When you look at his stats, he should be a first round pick. However, the consensus has him as a 6th to 7th round pick. The Group of 5 have a lot of diamonds in the rough. Is that the case for Zappe or does he just have bust written all over him?


  • Height- 6'1"

  • Weight- 220 lbs

  • School- Western Kentucky

  • Expected 40- 4.7 sec


  • Yards- 5,967

  • Touchdowns- 62

  • Interceptons- 11


Bailey Zappe had just one FBS offer coming out of high school even after gaining interest from many top programs. He accepted his only offer from an FBS school to Houston Baptist. As a true freshman he was able to start 9 of 10 games. Although he struggled a few times that season, he set a school record 248 yards in a win against Texas Southern. In his COVID depleted season in 2020, Houston Baptist was only able to play 4 games. In 3 of those games he threw for 400+ yards.

In 2021 he entered the transfer portal and committed to Western Kentucky. In his lone season he set NCAA records for passing yards and passing touchdowns in a single season and was named Conference-USA MVP. I am sure someone is saying "Conference-USA has no one, he played against nothing." He threw for 488 yards and 3 touchdowns against Michigan State. Now we sit here as wonder, is Bailey Zappe legit or are we wasting our time talking about him.


When watching Zappe, one thing I notice is his intelligence is super evident. He very rarely will make the wrong throw. His pre-snap read is remarkable. His ability to read the defense, make adjustments, and make the play makes him an intriguing draft pick. I have rarely seen Zappe take a sack. He is not the most athletic player, but his ability to move throughout the pocket, avoid bad throws, and escape the sack are impressive.

Zappe's accuracy are a result to his intelligence. As I watch film on other QBs (both good and bad), so often do we see throws that should not be thrown. Sometimes they are caught, sometimes it is incomplete, and sometimes it is an interception. As I watch Zappe majority of his throws are the correct throws. The play has developed, he read the defense, and was able to find the correct receiver.

If the NFL Draft was based solely off an IQ test, Zappe would be a first round pick.

Deep Throws

Here is where I get confused on Bailey Zappe. He has shown signs of being an incredible deep ball thrower. Some of the deep throws he makes, my jaw hits the floor. However, I have concerns on his deep throws. So often they are lofted into the receivers hands. There is rarely any zip on his deep throws. I am curious how that will fare for him in the NFL.

His mechanics when he throws are not a huge concern for me, except on deep throws. His footwork is fantastic since he is so light on his feet. When he throws the ball short, I do not see much concern. However, those deep throws are weird. His deep throws do not seem natural to him. He almost uses his whole body to throw the ball.

The deep throws are a huge concern for me. I feel his intelligence can hide the flaws in his game. There is no zip on his deep throws. He floats the ball in consistently. Then add that weird mechanics on his throws, I would circle this as a concern for Zappe.

His throws on the run are poor. For as smart as Zappe is, he should be aware that he should not throw on the run. His throws on the run have no zip are are consistently inaccurate.

Who should get the majority of the credit: Bailey Zappe or his teammates?

As I continue to watch Bailey Zappe highlights, I keep seeing a few things. Western Kentucky's offensive line was good this past season. He had an incredible amount of time in the pocket consistently. There is a reason he was one of the least sacked QBs in college football last season.

No quarterback is going to struggle when they have 2 hours to make a throw in the pocket. If they do struggle, then they usually are not worth talking about. However, Zappe is extremely successful in the pocket. Usually when he is rushed and has to throw quickly, mistakes happen.

Physical Traits

Bailey Zappe is undersized. He is only 6'1" and will be one of the smaller QB's in the NFL. He does not let his size influence his game, but it is something to be aware of.

His athleticism is average. If you want an athletic QB, draft someone else. I want to say he has average athleticism, but he makes plays that are above average. If you want a better athlete, go draft Malik Willis. However, do not look at his athleticism as a weakness.

He is not crazy fast and he does not rely on his legs to make the plays. He will use his legs if it is the best thing to do. If there are no options down field and there is an opening, he will run for the first down.

Best Landing Spot

Zappe is a work in progress. He is not ready to be handed the keys to an offense and is probably a few years away from even being considered "the guy." There is going to be a learning curve with Zappe going from college to the NFL. He has continuously progressed throughout his college career and I would expect him to do so in the NFL.

My preferred landing spot is the Dallas Cowboys. There is still some uncertainty that Dak Prescott is the long term solution in Dallas. There are rumors floating around that Dallas may look to move on from him in a few years. If Zappe does go to Dallas, he would given an opportunity to minimize that learning curve.

Senior Bowl

Zappe is a player that can help his stock tremendously through the 2022 Senior Bowl. From the film that has been made public from practices, he has been making some great throws throughout the week.

Here is a play that I am really happy with. I have been praising Zappe for his intelligence and his pocket prescience. The more I watch college QB's, the more I see their intelligence in the pocket is MIA. It is not a crazy flashy move, but this easily could result in a sack or a bad throw. A quick step up for Zappe ends in a big play. These are the kind of plays that Zappe continues to make and can help his stock rise.

Check out some other throws from Zappe at the Senior Bowl practice!

To Wrap It Up

Zappe is a very intriguing prospect. On paper he should be the first QB taken in the draft. He had the best season for a QB in college football history. However, he is not being discussed among that top tier group of QB's in this class.

His intelligence is unmatched in this class. The biggest reason for his success as a collegiate QB was his intelligence. He knows the throws he is capable of making and can read a defense. If he was not as intelligent, we would not even be discussing Bailey Zappe. He uses his intelligence to make the play with either his arm or legs. He is not a crazy skilled athlete, but do not take it as a weakness.

His deep throws are confusing. He has no zip on the ball when he throws the ball deep. There is zip when he throws short, but none when he throws deep. He lofts the ball into the receiver so often. This goes back to his intelligence. He knows when he can get away with that and when he can not. When he throws on the run, he struggles. His throws are incredible inaccurate when he throws the ball on the run.

However, he is able to hide his flaws through his intelligence on the field. I still feel is far from a finished prospect. He should not be a starter day 1 and I feel because of that, that is why he will fall to the end of day 2 or early day 3.

My prediction for Bailey Zappe's career will be similar to Case Keenum or Ryan Fitzpatrick. Both of these players bounced from team to team. Teams in quarterback transitions often employed these two players; Keenum and Fitzpatrick were never long-term solutions. They had a player that could keep the team afloat, but that player was not who they want to build the offense around. Zappe will have a similar career. He is not a franchise QB, but has the ability to start in this league or be a long-term back-up for a team.

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