New England Patriots

Sep 18, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Western Michigan Broncos quarterback Kaleb Eleby (5) passes against the Pittsburgh Panthers during the third quarter at Heinz Field. The Broncos won 44-41. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
  • Welcome to the first instalment of 98.5’s Patriots positional draft preview! Over the next two months we’ll be taking a position-by-position look at the 2022 NFL draft class from the Patriots’ point of view. There will be a new position posted just about every Tuesday and Thursday between now and the draft (1st round on Apr. 28), with some mock drafts mixed in as well.

    All of the previews will be structured a little differently, but they’ll all have the same goal – getting familiar with the best draft fits for the Patriots this year. You can find the full schedule at the end of this post.

  • We’ll start with the quarterbacks, which unlike last year isn’t a main area of focus for the Patriots. However, if you’ve followed my work in the past, you know I leave no stone unturned when it comes to positional breakdowns.

    Of course the Patriots don’t need to be in the market for an immediate starting-caliber quarterback. That’s especially good news this year, with this class projected to be one of the weakest in terms of top-tier talent at the position in the last decade.

    However, there are some intriguing developmental/backup options in this class, which could make more sense for New England. 36-year-old Brian Hoyer re-signed on a two-year deal, but it has an easy out for the team after this season. Jarrett Stidham will be a free agent this time next year.

    If the Patriots want to find a stable long-term backup for Mac Jones, they’ll have their chances in this class. Who should Patriots fans know?

  • Bailey Zappe, Western Kentucky

    Sep 11, 2021; West Point, New York, USA; Western Kentucky Hilltoppers quarterback Bailey Zappe (4) throws a pass against the Army Black Knights during the second half at Michie Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

    Zappe transfered from FCS Houston Baptist to Western Kentucky for the 2021 season and promptly rewrote the NCAA record books. He set new single-season marks in both passing yards (5,967) and touchdowns (62) while leading the C-USA in completion percentage (69.3). It was clear he’s still growing as he stepped into a bigger program for his redshirt senior year.

    As things stand now, Zappe is the top ‘value’ option at quarterback in this class, and is expected to go early on Day 3. While the Patriots may have other more pressing needs they could address in that range, we’ve seen them get aggressive when it comes to drafting backup QB’s 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).

  • E.J. Perry, Brown

    Providence, RI, Sept 18, 2021 – Brown QB EJ Perry throwing to a Bear receiver on a 2nd quarter play. The Brown Bears and the URI Rams face off in the annual Governor’s Cup game, at Brown Stadium on Saturday afternoon. (The Providence Journal/Kris Craig)

    A native of Andover, Mass. who transferred from Boston College to Brown, Perry took the Ivy League by storm as a dual-threat quarterback and won Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year in 2021. He followed that up by winning offensive MVP of the Shrine Bowl, then an impressive showing at the Combine. All of that postseason work has his stock rising into the top 200.

    Perry’s arm isn’t quite NFL-caliber yet, but he can compensate for that somewhat with what he can do with his legs. He could have the potential to help the team as a gadget player to start, as he develops into a more well-rounded quarterback to potentially back up Mac Jones.

  • Kaleb Eleby, Western Michigan

    Sep 18, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Western Michigan Broncos quarterback Kaleb Eleby (5) against the Pittsburgh Panthers during the first quarter at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

    Eleby is another quarterback who saw his draft stock rise with a strong showing at the Combine. He’s a very efficient passer, who gets the ball out quick and rarely turns it over. At the same time, he’s shown an ability to create on the run and extend broken plays.

    There are some concerns physical concerns regarding Eleby’s potential at the position, both in terms of his arm strength and athleticism – he’s more crafty than elusive. However, his strengths line up well with what the Patriots have historically valued at the position under Bill Belichick, and some of his weaknesses theoretically would be hidden in New England’s offensive system.  Like Perry, he’s currently expected to go right around the 200th pick.

  • Brock Purdy

    LUBBOCK, TEXAS – NOVEMBER 13: Quarterback Brock Purdy #15 of the Iowa State Cyclones runs with the ball during the first half of the college football game against the Texas Tech Red Raiders at Jones AT&T Stadium on November 13, 2021 in Lubbock, Texas. (Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images)

    If the Patriots want an ‘experienced’ quarterback in the draft, it’d be hard to find one with more game reps under his belt than Purdy. Purdy took over as the starter at Iowa State midway through his freshman year, had a breakout season as a sophomore, then led the Cyclones to the Big Ten title game in 2020. However, a down year in 2021 hurt his draft stock, and he’s now viewed as a fringe draft pick or priority UDFA. That could be enough for the Patriots to see him as a ‘value’ option – especially if he goes undrafted – and bring him in as a camp arm.

    Purdy will know what he’s looking at in the pocket, and wins more with accuracy than arm strength. His legs were an asset in college, although his power running style will be tested against bigger defenders at the next level.