2022 NFL Draft Player Profiles: Western Kentucky QB Bailey Zappe

From now until the 2022 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to scout and create profiles for as many prospects as possible, examining their strengths, weaknesses, and what they can bring to an NFL franchise. These players could be potential top 10 picks, all the way down to Day 3 selections and priority undrafted free agents. Today I’ll be taking a look at a record-setting passer in the 2022 NFL Draft class in Western Kentucky’s Bailey Zappe.

#4 Bailey Zappe, QB, Western Kentucky (Sr.) — 6004, 215 lbs.

Senior Bowl, Combine


Player Ht/Wt Hand Size Arm Length Wingspan
Bailey Zappe 6004/215 9 3/4″ 31 1/4″ 75 5/8″
40-Yard Dash 10-Yard Dash Short Shuttle 3-Cone
4.88 N/A 4.40 7.19
Broad Jump Vertical Bench Press
9’1″ 30″ N/A

The Good

-Record-breaking pass production at Western Kentucky
-Good feel overall for scheme; commanded offense at a high level
-Able to dissect and distribute the football quickly against defenses due to pre-snap work
-Impressive pocket presence overall; stands tall and delivers
-Great overall pocket awareness to climb/slide and reset when necessary
-Sound touch on deep balls with high-level accuracy
-Lots of anticipatory throws on tape; knows where his answers are
-Compact, whip-like release
-Good feel for using his eyes to manipulate/move defenders

The Bad

-Record-breaking production came in Air Raid system with pre-determined reads
-Just one year at Division I level
-Average arm strength overall; ball tends to float on boundary throws
-Mechanics falter under pressure at times when moved off his spot, leading to some throws that sail
-Struggles to find consistency overall in mechanics throughout games
-Faces significant learning curve at next level
-Struggles to play out of structure
-Won’t threaten NFL windows with arm strength
-Needs to clean up pre-motion patting of the football to start windup


-Threw for 5,967 yards, 62 touchdowns and 11 interceptions while completing 475 of 686 passes in 14 games in 2021 for WKU
-Named C-USA MVP for 2021
-Named All C-USA First Team QB
-Voted C-USA Offensive Player of the Week four times in 2021
-Named Offensive MVP of the 2021 Boca Raton Bowl in win over Appalachian State
-Named a Manning Award Finalist for best QB in the country
-Winner of the Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award in 2021 for top offensive player in Division 1
-Threw for 8,466 yards, 73 touchdowns, and 29 interceptions over three seasons at Houston Baptist before transferring to Western Kentucky

Tape Breakdown

As the game of football at the collegiate level transitions further and further to 7-on-7 style, more and more quarterbacks coming out of the collegiate level and entering the NFL Draft are going to have some impressive resumes behind them.

That’s exactly what Western Kentucky’s Bailey Zappe has in the quarterback class of the 2022 NFL Draft. A record-setting passer for the Hilltoppers in 2021 after spending three seasons at Houston Baptist, Zappe burst onto the scene last fall and lit up opposing defenses through the air, throwing for 5,967 yards, 62 touchdowns and just 11 interceptions on 686 passing attempts, leading the Hilltoppers to a bowl game.

While he has an insane resume throwing the football at the collegiate level, Zappe is another quarterback coming out of an Air Raid system that has more questions than answers and lags behind some of the top passers in the draft class from more prestigious levels and more pro-ready schemes overall.

Though he carries the stench of the Air Raid on him (rightly or wrongly when analyzing quarterbacks entering the NFL, Zappe has some impressive tools overall, none moreso than the one between his ears. It’s very clear on tape just how smart of a quarterback and how quick of a processor Zappe is, especially due to his work pre-snap.

There’s quite a few anticipatory throws on tape that Zappe sees even before the football is snapped.


This play against Indiana last season is a good example of that as Zappe hits the tight end on the delayed route as soon as his back foot hits the ground. Zappe does. great job processing exactly what the linebackers do at the snap on the play-action fake. Watch how the Indiana linebackers come downhill initially before Zappe catches them off balance, firing a dart to the tight end in space for the score.

Though I do have concerns about Zappe’s ability to play out of structure, he tends to do a great job resetting his feet to get enough arm behind the throw, which is a huge help to him considering he doesn’t have much arm strength overall.


This throw against Army last fall was really impressive. Zappe does a nice job sliding out of the pocket to his left before resetting and firing a quick strike on a line to his receiver in the corner of the end zone, getting the ball into a tight window for the score past a lunging Army defender.

Most quarterbacks tend to drift here and throw on the run, but Zappe does a fantastic job getting his hips square to the line of scrimmage and resetting his feet to throw the dart.

Later in the season, with the pocket crumbling around him, Zappe did something similar against Middle Tennessee State.


Look at the way he doesn’t panic, keeps his eyes downfield and then resets his feet just enough to fire the strike to the only place his receiver can make a play for the score. That’s some great stuff right there from Zappe, who isn’t the most athletic or mobile quarterback overall, yet has really good pocket presence overall.

Aside from his pocket presence, Zappe raised some eyebrows with his touch and accuracy downfield. While he doesn’t the strongest arm overall, which can give him issues in tighter windows, he throws with great touch and accuracy, as well as anticipation, on throws downfield.


Zappe knows right away that he has single coverage to the far side of the field with a safety needing to rotate over from the far hash for help. He does a great job putting this one in the air into the bucket for his receiver, who draws a penalty in the process. You can’t make throws downfield from the far hash to the other sideline better than this.

That accuracy and touch also extends on fade routes in the red zone, where Zappe really made some plays for the Hilltoppers.


Here against Charlotte, Zappe throws a perfect ball under duress, keeping the ball in the field of play while still putting it near the back pylon, where only his receiver can make a play. You can tell they practiced this quite a bit because Zappe makes it look far too easy. He takes a huge shot at the end too, but that’s the price he’s willing to pay to make throws like this.

Finally, I did notice Zappe had a tendency to throw his receivers open in tight windows. While he doesn’t utilize multiple arm slots to squeeze the football into windows, he has great vision overall in the gun and can put the football into safe spaces for his guys to make plays.

Then tended to capitalize quite a bit with Zappe doing that, like this throw here in the red zone against Old Dominion.


The ODU safety is in great position here undercutting the tight end after getting beaten on the route. Watch Zappe just manipulate this throw a bit, putting it out in front of his tight end just enough, allowing him to go out and get it for the score. He could have put it right over the helmet of the safety, but his eyes allowed him to see enough of a window that he was confident squeezing the football into a yard or two to the tight end’s left, leading to the score.


Overall, there’s a lot to like on Zappe’s tape, but there’s also significant limitations, starting with the arm strength and the overall lack of mobility. While he has functional mobility in the pocket, he’s not going to make many plays with his legs overall, and really isn’t adept at throwing on the run based on the film.

Add in the fact that he’s coming from the Air Raid system designed with a lot of one-sided reads and one-read route concepts, he’ll have a significant adjustment jumping into the NFL. He’s a smart football player who had a lot of success with pre-snap work, but he has a learning curve coming, no doubt.

Physically, he reminds me a lot of Chase Daniel and profiles very similarly to the former Missouri star who has carved out a terrific career as a longtime backup in the NFL. That’s Zappe’s ceiling for me, though Daniel was a bit more athletic.

Projection: Mid Day 3 (5th/6th Round)

Depot Draft Grade: 6.6 Backup QB, profiling more as a No. 3 in his rookie season.

Games Watched: vs. UT Martin (2021), at Army (2021), vs. Indiana (2021), at Michigan State (2021), vs. UTSA (2021), at Old Dominion (2021), at FIU (2021), at Marshall (2021), at UTSA (C-USA CG, 2021), vs. Appalachian State (Boca Raton Bowl, 2021)

Previous 2022 NFL Draft Player Profiles
QB Sam Howell OL Kenyon Green LB Chad Muma C Tyler Linderbaum
OT Trevor Penning QB Malik Willis WR Treylon Burks QB Kenny Pickett
WR Romeo Doubs DL Phidarian Mathis LB Damone Clark QB Desmond Ridder
OT Daniel Faalele LB Devin Lloyd OG Zion Johnson LB Nate Landman
DL Devonte Wyatt WR Charleston Lambo OL Luke Fortner QB Matt Corral
WR Jalen Tolbert DL Eyioma Uwazurike OT Charles Cross DL Travis Jones
WR Dontario Drummond CB Roger McCreary QB Carson Strong DB Jalen Pitre
CB Ahmad Gardner LB Christian Harris CB Kalon Barnes LB Aaron Hansford
OG Ed Ingram OL Cade Mays DL Matthew Butler TE Charlie Kolar
WR Alec Pierce  DL Perrion Winfrey CB Coby Bryant OT Ikem Ekwonu
LB Leo Chenal WR John Metchie III LB JoJo Domann OT Abraham Lucas
WR Skyy Moore OT Rasheed Walker DB Daxton Hill CB Kaiir Elam
RB Leddie Brown WR Jahan Dotson RB Dameon Pierce S Kyle Hamilton
WR Garrett Wilson OT Tyler Smith WR George Pickens LB Troy Anderson
OL Darian Kinnard OL Tyrese Robinson S Jaquan Brisker WR David Bell
DL John Ridgeway LB Malcolm Rodriguez WR Chris Olave CB Kyler Gordon
EDGE Myjai Sanders WR Christian Watson LB Channing Tindall DL DeMarvin Leal
CB Joshua Williams OL Jamaree Sayler DL Thomas Booker RB Jashaun Corbin
S Lewis Cine WR Danny Gray DB Verone McKinley III iOL Chasen Hines
EDGE Nik Bonitto OT Bamidele Olaseni CB Andrew Booth Jr. CB Alontae Taylor
DB Cam Taylor-Britt CB Derek Stingley Jr. OT Max Mitchell NT Jordan Davis
WR Justyn Ross ATH Wan’Dale Robinson CB Dallis Flowers WR Velus Jones
S Nick Cross DL Zach Carter LB Josh Ross RB Hassan Haskins
CB Cobie Durant CB Tariq Woolen H-Back Connor Heyward S Bryan Cook
WR Bo Melton EDGE Travon Walker S Tycen Anderson WR Emeka Emezie
DT Jayden Peevy C Alec Lindstrom WR Drake London EDGE Arnold Ebiketie
EDGE Sam Williams WR Jalen Nailor DL Logan Hall RB Mataeo Durant
TE Ko Kieft WR Tyquan Thornton S Scott Nelson S Leon O’Neal
OT Jean Delance EDGE James Houston IV S Smoke Monday CB Zyon McCollum
WR Kevin Austin Jr. iOL Brock Hoffman WR Isaiah Weston WR Jameson Williams
OT Bernhard Raimann CB Martin Emerson Jr. WR Calvin Austin RB Pierre Strong
OT Nicholas Petit-Frere WR Jaquarii Roberson OL Zach Tom LB Jeremiah Moon
CB Jack Jones FB Zander Horvath OL Spencer Burford RB Tyler Goodson
CB Josh Jobe RB Ty Chandler S Yusuf Corker EDGE Luiji Vilain
EDGE Kingsley Enagbare OG Thayer Munford DT Eric Johnson EDGE DeAngelo Malone
CB Mario Goodrich WR Josh Johnson LB/EDGE Jesse Luketa S Joey Blount
EDGE Josh Pascal EDGE Jeffery Gunter LB Brandon Smith S Nolan Turner
EDGE David Ojabo WR Braylon Sanders RB Sincere McCormick CB Jayln Armour-Davis
EDGE Ali Fayad LB Terrel Bernard EDGE Boye Mafe RB Ty Davis-Price
LB Brian Asamoah RB Isaih Pacheco CB Tariq Castro-Fields RB Jerome Ford
RB Tyler Allgeier EDGE Amare Barno RB Kryen Williams RB Zamir White
RB Kennedy Brooks CB Cordale Flott CB Isaac Taylor-Stuart QB Chris Oladkoun
WR Deven Thompkins CB Damarri Mathis RB James Cook EDGE Dominque Robinson
C Cam Jurgens OT Ben Petrula LB James Skalski LB Mark Robinson
RB Tyler Badie WR Samori Toure iDL Kurt Hinish NT Neil Farrell Jr.
WR Khalil Shakir OL Sean Rhyan OL Andrew Stueber TE Chase Allen
WR Jerreth Sterns WR Tyler Fryfogle S Isaiah Pola-Mao OL Luke Goedeke
TE Cole Turner TE Jeremy Ruckert WR Tre Turner TE Daniel Bellinger
S Elijah Hicks S Quentin Lake QB Cole Kelley TE Isaiah Likely
RB Brian Robinson WR Erik Ezukanma S Markquese Bell EDGE Drake Jackson
WR Stanley Berryhill III OL Cordell Volson OL Dylan Parham TE Austin Allen
S Reed Blankenship
To Top