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The Big Blue-Print: NC State’s Ryan Finley

The New York Giants are partying like it’s Week 3, as they defeated the San Francisco 49ers this past Monday to earn their coveted second win of the season.

Quarterback Eli Manning turned back the clock, as he unleashed his 41st game-winning drive in his career. A lot of his success can be due to the success of the offensive line (and new acquisition Jamon Brown) and a rather weak 49ers pass rush. So now, Manning can start another week, which happens to be this Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Regardless of his success on Monday Night Football, the Giants will not stop their search for Manning’s successor. In fact, last Saturday, Dave Gettleman was in attendance for the Oregon-Utah game in Salt Lake City to personally scout Justin Herbert.

So this week, let’s look at a quarterback who many are overlooking and could be a dark horse in the NFL Draft: Ryan Finley of North Carolina State.

Who is Ryan Finley?

Ryan Finley is perhaps one of the rising stars in this year’s quarterback class. Finley is 6-3, weighing in at 185 pounds. A native of Phoenix, Ariz., Finley was viewed as a three-star recruit in 2012, as he ranked as the tenth-best prospect in the state, as well as the No. 31 pro-style quarterback.

Finley originally committed to Boise State, where he played his spent his first two seasons at the collegiate level. He finally got his chance as the Broncos’ starting quarterback, but was limited to just three games due to a broken ankle. In that span, he would complete 46-70 passes for 485 yards, one touchdown, and four interceptions.

Those games were his last at Boise State, as he transferred to North Carolina State, where he became the immediate starter. His game would improve over each consecutive year. In 13 games last season, Finley completed 65.1 percent of his passes for 3,514 yards, 17 touchdowns, and six interceptions. In four less games in 2018, Finley has matched, and is on pace to exceed his previous stat line. How so? A 67.7 completion percentage, 2,864 yards, and 17 scores.

What the Game Film Shows

If the game film shows us anything, it’s that Ryan Finley is one of the more refined pocket passers in this year’s draft class. His accuracy is impeccable, as he can find hit his target on the hands with the ball. Just look at this throw from Finley to Kelvin Harmon on Oct. 6 against Boston College.

However, as you can see, he doesn’t exactly have the most powerful arm in the world, but he puts just enough zip on the ball in order to allow it to reach his intended receiver.

Yet, there are concerns about his decision making, as he sometimes waits until the last second to get rid of the ball once oncoming pressure heads his way. That, and he doesn’t really have excellent field vision, as he sets his focus on one receiver and waits for an opening.  Not only that, but he can sometimes force the ball into double and sometimes triple coverage. As a result, it can lead to a turnover.

Unlike the other quarterbacks that were covered like Herbert, Drew Lock, and Will Grier, Finley is not the most mobile of signal callers. He can move, but not at a speed that could break away from defenders. He is a pocket passer through and through.

What Draft Experts Are Saying

Recently, Finley’s draft stock has taken a bit of a hit, and some draft experts have been critical of him being an early round draft pick.

Joe Marino of The Draft Network has been alarmed by his abilities to transition to the NFL level, calling him “just too limited physically, his accuracy beyond ten yards is lacking, his trigger can be slow and he’s going to be 24 in December after 6 seasons in college.”

Following N.C. State’s 41-7 loss to the then-No. 3 Clemson Tigers, Dane Brugler of The Athletic had similar feelings towards Finley, saying, “there is plenty of blame to go around on this NCST offense, but his limitations are clear in this game.”

Those evaluations are a far cry from what was said of Finley prior to the start of the 2018 season. In fact, ESPN draft expert Todd McShay called Finley the top quarterback prospect in the 2019 draft class.

“Ryan Finley is a pro style quarterback who is efficient,” said McShay. “He’s not great in terms of his physical tools. He has good arms strength. He’s intelligent. He’s played well in clutch situations. He has a lot of the toughness you look for. He throws with anticipation and gets the ball out on time. To me right now, Ryan Finley is the most pro ready quarterback in college football.”

Erik Lambert of compared Finley to Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco. Similar throwing motions and accuracy. Not elite arm strength, but just enough to make a difference for their team, which can lead to a lengthy career. Lambert went onto say, “Flacco is bigger while Finley is more mobile.”

In terms of his mobility, he has been called a “less athletic Alex Smith.”

Finley a Fit for the Giants?

FInley does have some untapped potential, who could be a steal for a team if he fully develops. However, Finley is not a perfect fit for the Giants.

The main thing that is concerning is his lack of mobility, considering the Giants offensive line is still a work in progress. For the Giants, they need a guy who can run out of the pocket quickly to extend the play. Finely doesn’t exactly bring that. The lack of elite arm strength from Finley is not ideal for the cold weather in the Meadowlands and to compete against the tough defenses in the NFC East. His field of vision could create problems at the pro level, and it could lead to costly turnovers.

Finley could possibly be a fixture in the NFL at the quarterback position, but it won’t be in New York. Expect Finley to be selected by another team who does not need a quarterback immediately. Rather, Finley would be best on a team where he can be groomed by a proven quarterback and have his time in the next two to three years.


Finley’s Remaining Games: Saturday, Nov. 17 at Louisville, Nov. 24 at UNC, Dec. 1 vs. East Carolina.

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