2019 NFL Draft Prospects: Quarterbacks - Ryan Finley, N.C. State
An all-state football and basketball selection from Phoenix, Ryan Finley redshirted his first year with Boise State. The following season he appeared in five games as a reserve and in 2015 he was lost for the year with an ankle injury after just three games.
Finley had earned his degree during that time and with Brett Rypien penciled in as the Broncos’ starter, he decided to transfer. At N.C. State he immediately took over the starting spot and exceeded expectations. Finley was the Wolfpack’s Co-MVP as a junior and a first-team All-ACC selection last season, when he completed 67.4 percent of his passes for 3928 yards, 25 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
Finley might not have the biggest arm among these guys, but he is very accurate on all three levels and knows how to spread the ball around to his playmakers. He excels at chipping away with precise underneath completions against soft zones on hitches, square-ins and quick outs. He doesn’t mind changing to a quick screen if he has numbers on the trips side either.
Finley is at his best when throwing with timing and anticipation. He gets rid of the ball way early when he throws curl routes to the opposite hash, to the point where his receiver hasn’t even cut down his strides yet. However, he he can also throw some strikes down the field when he has a guy open.
Finley displays excellent touch with a beautiful over-the-top delivery and the off-arm tight to his rib-cage, which often times leads to pin-point accuracy, just away from the closest defender. He is one of the best back-shoulder throwers against tight man-coverage. Finley liked to feed his go-to target Kelvin Harmon and would work very well in general with a big-bodied target on the outside. He typically takes good care of the football and had a streak of 339 consecutive passes without an interception in 2017, as he doesn’t hesitate to throw the ball out of bounds when there is nowhere to go either.
The lanky 6’4” signal-caller surprised me with a 4.73 in the combine’s 40. He has enough athleticism to make blitzers off the edge pay for taking an angle that is too aggressive and is underrated in his ability to throw the ball on the run. Finley shows a lot of command of the offense when he makes his reads on one side of the ball and then is flushed the other way, but still knows what is being run over there and if he can throw it. He has experience with a lot of pro concepts and shows the ability to operate from under-center with the drop-back and heavy play-action game.
This young man very advanced with his footwork, really hitting that back-foot, hitching up to allow his receivers to clear the coverage and climbing the pocket with squared-up shoulders. He has the pocket presence to feel penetration and use subtle footwork to keep himself balanced and ready to step into a throw. Finley can move safeties with his eyes and always reads coverages high-to-low. He was responsible for 192 first downs and touchdowns last season – good for fifth among all quarterbacks in the country, as his rushing attack averaged just 3.8 yards per attempt.
However, Finley definitely lacks the bulk and pure throwing power teams are looking for in an NFL quarterback. He had just two completions of 40+ yards last season and you could call Finley somewhat of a game-manager with modest touchdown numbers and only 7.6 yards per attempt, which is one of the lower numbers among the guys on this list. He rarely drives the ball with high velocity and doesn’t create a lot of torque with his lower body.
Finley gets caught locking in on the receiver that the initial leverage dictates and doesn’t pull the ball back down if a DB sniffs it out and jumps the route. I am not sure how much he will still develop with five years of experience and turning 24 this upcoming season.
Finley is a rock-solid quarterback, who is very efficient with his footwork and makes the correct reads over the full field. He has a gift of putting arc on passes to lay them over the top of the underneath coverage and then come down to his receiver. I don’t think he will ever be a guy who carries a franchise on his back, but he could be a Kirk Cousins-type player, where if you put enough people around him he can win games for you.
While the mainstream media is hyping Duke’s Daniel Jones up to potentially be the fourth quarterback selected in the first round of the draft, I would much rather see a team take a shot at Finley with the later picks.
Grade: Late Second