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Bengals fans expected a quarterback to be drafted in Round One. After that didn’t happen many wondered who new head coach Zac Taylor had up his sleeve. His answer was North Carolina State signal caller Ryan Finley.
A three-star quarterback out of Phoenix (AZ) Aaec Paradise Valley who pledged and signed to Boise State in the Class of 2013. As a junior completed 239-of-381 passes for 2,911 yards, 25 TDs, and only seven interceptions. As a senior led the state of Arizona with 3,442 yards passing with 35 touchdowns vs. eight interceptions on 270-of-424 passes. Named Arizona Division III, Section III East Co-Offensive Player of the Year. In 2012 was the Arizona Cardinals Player of the Year across all divisions. Was all-state in football and basketball.
Started career at Boise State where he redshirted in 2013. In his second season he played in five games going 12-of-27 for 161 yards, two touchdowns and one interception with all but two attempts coming against Air Force. Year three saw a change as Finley played in three games at Boise State before suffering a season-ending ankle injury. Before the injury he went 46-of-70 for 485 yards along with a touchdown and four interceptions. Transferred to North Carolina State in the summer of 2016 as a grad transfer having earned his degree in three years. Was also granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA.
At North Carolina State he really started to show his talent throwing for 3,059 yards in 2016, sixth-best in school history and the best for any Wolfpack sophomore quarterback. Added 18 touchdowns while posting the seventh-best passing efficiency mark in Wolfpack history with 135.16. Followed that up in 2017 with 3,518 yards, 17 touchdowns with six interceptions. In his final season, Finley passed for 3,928 yards, 25 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Left his mark in a short time leaving the Wolfpack ranked fifth in program history in total offense with 6,865 yards.
For a quarterback Finley is not a bad athlete as he proved at the NFL Combine. Has room to get bigger and stronger physically. Scouts like his pocket poise, confidence and accuracy when rolling out of the pocket. The knock is at times he forces receivers to break too often and struggled in big rivalry games against North Carolina and Clemson.
Did Zac Taylor find a hidden gem? Some compare Finley to his former quarterback Jared Goff with reports Taylor was sold on Finley having him do a pre-draft visit and then trading up to get him. If the pocket is clear Finley can pick a team apart as he does a great job of reading the field and making a pre-snap plan while knowing the coverages he’s facing. Because of his maturity level he could be called upon if Andy Dalton would suffer an injury and do enough of the basics to keep the offense running. While somewhat of a project, Finley shows enough skills to be a player that could develop into a future starter in the NFL.