New England Patriots

BOCA RATON, FLORIDA - DECEMBER 18: Bailey Zappe #4 of the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers celebrates a touchdown with Jerreth Sterns #8 against the Appalachian State Mountaineers during the first half of the RoofClaim.com Boca Raton Bowl at FAU Stadium on December 18, 2021 in Boca Raton, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
  • It’s been a busy week for the Patriots, as college Pro Days wind down. They had staffers in Florida to begin the week, followed by a big trip to Alabama with a contingent highlighted by Bill Belichick and Matt Groh on Wednesday. While that was going on, assistant coach Ross Douglas continued his work with wide receivers at Boise State.

    On Thursday, it was newly-named director of scouting Eliot Wolf in the spotlight at the day’s most notable workout. According to Jim Nagy of the Senior Bowl, Wolf was one of the top executives spotted at Western Kentucky’s Pro Day.

    Despite not having any projected Day 1 or Day 2 picks, there were still some notable names working out in Bowling Green. That list is highlighted by a player that just broke a number of notable NCAA single-season records. Here’s a quick rundown of who Wolf saw on Thursday…

  • QB Bailey Zappe

    BOCA RATON, FLORIDA - DECEMBER 18: Bailey Zappe #4 of the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers looks to pass against the Appalachian State Mountaineers during the first half of the RoofClaim.com Boca Raton Bowl at FAU Stadium on December 18, 2021 in Boca Raton, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

    BOCA RATON, FLORIDA – DECEMBER 18: Bailey Zappe #4 of the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers looks to pass against the Appalachian State Mountaineers during the first half of the RoofClaim.com Boca Raton Bowl at FAU Stadium on December 18, 2021 in Boca Raton, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

    Zappe transferred to Western Kentucky from FCS Houston Baptist before the 2021 season, and rewrote the FBS record books upon his arrival. He threw for 5,967 yards and 62 touchdowns, surpassing the previous marks set by Joe Burrow in 2019.

    A five-year starter between two schools, Zappe is one of the most experienced passers in this draft. Given how much he’s seen, his instincts at this point help make up for some of his shortcomings with his arm.

    Would the Patriots have any interest in Zappe? With Jarrett Stidham entering the final year of his deal, it’s not unrealistic to think that they could be looking for a new long-term backup for Mac Jones, to join the QB room along with Brian Hoyer. While Zappe could fit the bill, he’s currently viewed as the top option in the second tier of passers in this draft, and his draft range will be boosted by a weak overall quarterback class. The Patriots have reached for backups in the past (Jarrett Stidham in the 4th round in 2019, Jacoby Brissett in the 3rd in 2016, Ryan Mallett in the 3rd in 2011, Kevin O’Connell in the 3rd in 2008), but that feels less realistic than usual this year.

  • WR Jerreth Sterns

    EAST LANSING, MICHIGAN - OCTOBER 02: Jerreth Sterns #8 of the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers runs the ball against Darius Snow #23 of the Michigan State Spartans during the third quarter of the game at Spartan Stadium on October 02, 2021 in East Lansing, Michigan. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)

    EAST LANSING, MICHIGAN – OCTOBER 02: Jerreth Sterns #8 of the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers runs the ball against Darius Snow #23 of the Michigan State Spartans during the third quarter of the game at Spartan Stadium on October 02, 2021 in East Lansing, Michigan. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)

    With that kind of quarterback production, there’s bound to be some eye-popping wide receiver numbers too right? That’s where Sterns comes in. He actually transferred with Zappe from HBU to WKU, and set new C-USA records for catches (150) and receiving yards (1,902) in a single season, while leading the conference in receiving touchdowns (17). Sterns finished the 2021 season eight catches and 158 yards away from setting new NCAA single-season records.

    At 5-foot-9, 183 pounds, Sterns is primarily a slot receiver. He’s an excellent route runner who works primarily in the short and intermediate areas of the field. He has very sure hands, both as a receiver and carrying the ball after the catch – he didn’t fumble on 168 touches at Western Kentucky. While he’s not a burner, Sterns has enough wiggle to do some damage with the ball in his hands, both as a receiver and punt returner.

    While he doesn’t pop physically, Sterns is a very technically-sound player. Currently projected to go outside of the top 200, he has all the makings of a late Day 3 Patriots draft pick or UDFA.

  • OLB DeAngelo Malone

    MTSU quarterback Asher O'Hara (10) gets sacked by Western defensive end DeAngelo Malone (10) and Western defensive tackle Ricky Barber (50) on Saturday, Oct. 3, 2020, at MTSU. (Helen Comer/DNJ via Imagn Content Services, LLC)

    MTSU quarterback Asher O’Hara (10) gets sacked by Western defensive end DeAngelo Malone (10) and Western defensive tackle Ricky Barber (50) on Saturday, Oct. 3, 2020, at MTSU. (Helen Comer/DNJ via Imagn Content Services, LLC)

    Western Kentucky’s incredible production isn’t limited to the offensive side of the ball – or players who transferred from Houston Baptist. Malone was a five-year player and four-year contributor for the Hilltoppers, winning C-USA Defensive Player of the Year twice, in 2019 and 2021. In 50 games over the last four seasons, Malone totaled 57.5 tackles for a loss including 31 sacks and forced eight fumbles.

    Malone primarily played with his hand in the dirt in college, but at 6-foot-3, 243 pounds will likely need to transition to being a standup edge rusher at the next level. He’ll likely be a passing down-specific player in the NFL right away, but does have room to grow his game. The Patriots have targeted similar players in recent years, including Ronnie Perkins last year. However, while Perkins was a top 100 pick, Malone is expected to go in the middle picks on Day 3.

  • Other workouts

    Nov 27, 2021; Huntington, West Virginia, USA; Western Kentucky Hilltoppers offensive lineman Boe Wilson (56) during the third quarter against the Marshall Thundering Herd at Joan C. Edwards Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

    Nov 27, 2021; Huntington, West Virginia, USA; Western Kentucky Hilltoppers offensive lineman Boe Wilson (56) during the third quarter against the Marshall Thundering Herd at Joan C. Edwards Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

    Western Kentucky also had four other players take part in the Pro Day. All are projected UDFAs.

    Three of those players are offensive linemen. That group includes guard Boe Wilson, who transferred to Western Kentucky after two years as a starter at Nebraska. WKU’s two starting tackles, Mason Brooks and Cole Spencer are also in this class. They’ll need to show they can also play at guard to stick on NFL rosters as versatile depth options.

    Finally there’s safety Antwon Kincade. Kincade started for the last three years, and piled up 100 tackles in 2021 as a box safety. His high motor and willingness to hit could see him get looks as a special teamer.

  • Other Pro Day breakdowns

    Georgia
    Alabama
    Penn State
    Florida
    Boise State
    Tulsa