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Cincinnati Bengals trade up to draft quarterback Ryan Finley

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Former NC State quarterback Ryan Finley went in the fourth round to the Cincinnati Bengals.
Former NC State quarterback Ryan Finley went in the fourth round to the Cincinnati Bengals. (Ken Martin/The Wolfpacker)

NC State's case for "QBU" became a little stronger Saturday.

Ryan Finley is now the fifth former Wolfpack quarterback to be in the NFL after he was picked by Cincinnati Bengals with the No. 104 pick. Cincinnati traded its fourth round pick (No. 110) and two sixth-round selections (No. 183 and No. 198) to snag Finley.

Finley joins the Chargers' Philip Rivers, Seattle's Russell Wilson, the Colts' Jacoby Brissett and Oakland's Mike Glennon in the league.

All of those quarterbacks were picked within the first three rounds of the NFL Draft. Philip Rivers went in the first round in 2004, while Wilson (2012), Glennon (2013) and Brissett (2016) were all selected in round three.

Finley had been expected to go that high by some.

"I love this guy," ESPN's Todd McShay said. "I had him as the fourth-graded quarterback in this class, and the best available prospect still on the board coming into today.

"He’s a tall, lean-framed quarterback whose got athleticism. People always say because he’s tall and long, he’s not a good athlete — not true. He can make throws outside, he can extend some plays. What I love about him … his efficiency, he’s remarkable. Then, you look at the pro-style throws, being able to climb the pocket, keep his eyes down the field and throw with anticipation and timing.

"The Clemson game in 2017 and the Boston College game in 2017, those are the two tapes where I looked and said there are a couple of mistakes in there, but this guy is a pro quarterback — and I think he’s the most pro-ready quarterback from a developmental standpoint in the entire class.

Finley threw for 10,501 yards and 60 touchdowns while completing a school-record 64.5 percent of his passes during his NC State career. He ranks second in many passing statistical categories to Rivers, including passing yards, passing efficiency rating, completions and attempts."

"He has excellent field vision," NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah said. "His game is more about timing and anticipation."

Finley was compared to Los Angeles Rams star quarterback Jared Goff, the former No. 1 pick of the 2016 NFL Draft who led L.A. to the Super Bowl this past season.

"He has a similar frame with a similar game," Jeremiah said. "This is somebody that doesn't have the same arm strength as Jared Goff, but again the accuracy. Ryan Finley is tremendously accurate."

McShay believed that the Bengals are a good fit and that in a couple years Cincinnati could evaluate whether or not to move on from starter Andy Dalton or try Finley as its starter.

Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton turns 32 next October. He threw for 2,566 yards, 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions last year.

"The more important part is this is a system where I think he can excel because he’s a better athlete than people think," McShay said. "When it comes to touch and timing and anticipating throws, this system is a perfect fit for what he does at a very high level."

ESPN's Louis Riddick also had praise for Finley.

"There’s no question that he has the ball-handling necessary, play-action pass is something he really excels at, touch passes, timing passes," Riddick said. "The margin for error isn’t there for him because he doesn’t have the horsepower in his arm, but he has to make up for that with decision making and putting the ball where it needs to be put.

"He’s a guy that can actually move inside the pocket and outside the pocket much better than you’d expect him to and make plays with his feet."

Finley was named first-team All-ACC as a senior, when he completed 67.4 percent of his passes for 3,928 yards and 25 touchdowns with 11 picks.

The Bengals had previously drafted outside linebacker Germaine Pratt of NC State in the third round. NC State All-American center Garrett Bradbury was picked in the first round by the Minnesota Vikings.


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