In the fourth round of the NFL draft, the New England Patriots zigged when everyone assumed they would zag by drafting quarterback Bailey Zappe out of Western Kentucky. The move seemed completely out of the blue, considering the team spent a first-round pick on Mac Jones last year and has veterans Brian Hoyer and Jarrett Stidham under contract.
Nonetheless, Zappe's college head coach Tyson Helton is convinced the Patriots made the right move. In an interview with Patriots Wire, Helton compared Zeppe to a recently-retired NFL Legend.
"Bailey reminds me a lot of Drew ... kind of Drew Brees-ish," Helton said. "Bailey has great anticipation. He sees it before it happens. And he has great accuracy, specifically deep ball accuracy. And those two things, you can't teach."
Of course, a comparison to former New Orleans Saints quarterback and future Hall-of-Famer is hyperbolic praise. But Zappe did show remarkably similar traits in college to the NFL legend.
In his only season as a starter at Western Kentucky, Zappe put up Madden video-game numbers, passing for 5,967 yards, 62 touchdowns and completing 69 percent of his throws. The high yardage totals and completion percentage were trademarks of Brees' career, as he accumulated four 5,000-yard passing seasons and finished with the second-highest completion percentage of all time at 67.7 percent.
Zappe achieved his production in college through, as Helton explained, demonstrating incredible anticipation.
Zappe still hasn't developed a lot of the nuances that Brees made a career out of, such as the ability to make multiple reads in the middle of drop-backs or even proper drop-back footwork and rhythm altogether. However, as a prospect, Zappe fits the simplistic mold for what the Patriots need from a quarterback: he makes good decisions, has strong anticipation, and can deliver an accurate ball on time.
Though a Brees comparison is certainly lofty, there's no denying some baseline similarities between Brees the Purdue prospect and Zappe the Western Kentucky prospect. Whether Zappe is able to come close to Brees' illustrious career, one piece remains clear: the New England quarterback room is probably better now than it was before the draft.