It’s been an eventful bye week for the Cincinnati Bengals. Less than a week removed from promoting Ryan Finley over Andy Dalton as the team’s starting quarterback, we’ve been given a much-needed reintroduction to the 24-year old rookie signal caller out of North Carolina State.
However, Finley lasted until the fourth round of the NFL Draft for a reason. What did the experts have to say about the Bengals’ new starting quarterback before he got to Cincinnati? Let’s revisit some pre-draft comments from the industry’s best.
While Finley’s accuracy, production and mode of operation has been static over the last three years, his ability to improve in all areas has been impressive. He works well in a controlled environment, reads alignments and knows where the ball should go, but he failed to elevate his production against the best in-game competition and then again at the Senior Bowl. His intelligence and accuracy could find him work as a quality backup with the potential to find some future starts.
“He has excellent field vision. His game is more about timing and anticipation. He has a similar frame with a similar game (to that of Rams’ QB Jared Goff). This is somebody that doesn’t have the same arm strength as Jared Goff, but again the accuracy. Ryan Finley is tremendously accurate.”
Although his lack of ideal velocity is an issue, Finley delivers a catchable ball with touch and clearly has a firm grasp of the playbook. He is a confident thrower, but his chances are mostly calculated, low-risk passes. Overall, Finley has some Nick Foles to his game and projects as an NFL backup, but his average arm and lack of urgency and creativity outside of structure are concerns for his pro transition.
Some evaluators, particularly those in the media, seem to think Finley can become a starting NFL quarterback. We don’t see that. His limited arm strength, poor lower body power and struggles to produce in the red zone leave Finley looking like a career back up.
GRADE: 5.69 (ROUND 5 - BACKUP CALIBER)
PRO COMPARISON: Mike Glennon
I think Finley can be an NFL starter. He has very fast eyes and reads the defense better than any of the other quarterbacks in the class. But even if he doesn’t materialize into a franchise guy, this pick was still very good. The worse case here is the Bengals drafted a good backup QB at No. 104 overall. The best case? Finley has the talent to potentially win the starting gig as soon as 2020 for Cincinnati. Andy Dalton has two years left on his deal, but the Bengals could cut Dalton before the 2020 season with no dead money attached if Finley is ready to be the guy.
A sixth-year senior, Finley enters the NFL with an abundance of experience under his belt. While his time on the field is ideal, his deficiencies with processing are even more concerning given the amount of football he’s played to this point in his career. Finley leaves much to be desired in terms of arm strength and the ability to drive the football with velocity to his targets which limits the areas of the field he can realistically attack in the NFL. Finley finds his success hitting rhythm passes and making spot throws against man coverage. By year three, Finley could be a reliable backup quarterback but it’s hard to envision him having success as a starter or pegged for that opportunity.
Round Grade: Mid Day 3 Value
Pro Football Focus:
Finley lacks the type of arm strength most would like to see at the NFL level, but throw for throw, he’s one of the most accurate quarterbacks in the class.
QB Ryan Finley will start for the #Bengals coming out of the bye.— Evan McPhillips (@emcphil) November 1, 2019
Finley was @PFF's 6th-ranked QB in the draft & he impressed from a clean pocket, earning a 91.8 grade (5th among QBs).
Here's his pre-draft spider chart & a chart of every throw from his final collegiate season. pic.twitter.com/8JWwoJrwit