Ryan Finley was a little bit of a surprise pick to some people, but the Bengals had been showing a lot of interest in later-round quarterbacks the last couple drafts.
With a new coach and staff coming in, they may have wanted to bring in a quarterback that they can develop themselves. With Andy Dalton being injured again last season and getting older, bringing in a backup that can keep the passing game going was likely a key focus of the new coaching staff. Ryan Finley can do that and potentially more.
1. A smart backup quarterback
Ryan Finley’s football knowledge is likely a reason that the Bengals felt comfortable taking him in the fourth round. He shows a good football mind and is able to go through his progressions and make the smart decisions. He may have a slightly below average arm, but he makes up for that in his other aspects. A timing based throwing system would really benefit and fit his total skill set.
2. Good technique and accuracy
Finley is not a project quarterback who needs a couple of years of practice, he is technically ready to come in and start whenever needed. He is not a project quarterback that needs time to refine his game off the field and clean up his technique. He is ready to come onto the field and throw day one. For a team that thinks they are ready to contend, Finley is the ideal backup, because he should be able to play immediately.
3. Driskel replacement
In stark contrast, last year the Bengals had Jeff Driskel as the backup, who is someone with a lot of raw ability, but needs a lot of coaching to harness those abilities. Driskel played fine in 2018 when asked to step in to start, but he will have to show big strides before the season to definitely keep the backup job. If the Bengals don’t keep three quarterbacks there is a chance Driskel may be joining a new team post cuts this year.
4. Potential Dalton replacement
Andy Dalton is at a weird part in his career. He has two years left on his contract, but has not lead the Bengals to a winning record since his fantastic 2015 season. He also will be playing with a new head coach for the first time for his career. If he struggles in the first year under Taylor he will have very little guaranteed money left off his contract and would be able to be cut with little dead cap. Add to that the fact that his contract is a bargain, and with quarterback contracts skyrocketing, they likely won’t be able to retain him for nearly as cheap when his contract runs out.
5. Building a winning culture
Finley lead the Wolfpack to two 9-4 seasons his final two years in college, showing he has what it takes to win. This has been a clear theme with the Bengals in recent years, focusing on bringing in players with a good pedigree who come from winning cultures. Making sure that the locker room is full of players that are used to winning is a great way for the Bengals to make a positive locker room culture who all push each other to play up to the best of their abilities.