Back Finley Should Be a 1st Rounder

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Finley Should Be a 1st Rounder

By Jim Johnson
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Having, perhaps, capped off his collegiate career with a 24/29, 318 yard, and one score performance, without a turnover, in NC State’s 52-31 Sun Bowl victory over Arizona State, Finley has been a model of consistency all season.

Despite what seems to be an overwhelming sentiment that practically every NFL team is going to take a quarterback on the first day of the 2018 draft, only four passers are deserving of first round selections: Lamar Jackson, Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold, and Ryan Finley -- in that order, with a substantial gulf between the first two and the others.

Rosen and Darnold seem to be foregone conclusions, and Lamar Jackson, while not fully getting the respect that he has earned, is being talked about plenty. However, whereas Mason Rudolph, Baker Mayfield, and, increasingly bafflingly Josh Allen unduly seem to be the other top prospects, according to the general consensus, Finley is, realistically, the best option after the top three.

Having, perhaps, capped off his collegiate career with a 24/29, 318 yard, and one score performance, without a turnover, in NC State’s 52-31 Sun Bowl victory over Arizona State, Finley has been a model of consistency all season.

Of the aforementioned prospects, Finley, Jackson, and Mayfield are the only ones not to throw multiple interceptions in more than one contest.

He ranks first in the group for turnover-worthy throws, at just 2%, and also averages the quickest release.

Not necessarily elite (within the ranks of the seven signal callers), in any one respect beyond those, he does not exhibit any glaring weaknesses from one depth of the field to the next, a trait he shares only with Jackson and Mayfield.

His adjusted completion percentage when pressured trails Mayfield and Rudolph, but those two both run nonsense offenses.

Finley is not the sort of transcendent talent that can take over at the next level regardless of scheme or team -- in fact those will be integral to his eventual success or lack thereof, as is the case with all but a select few special players.

That said, if taken in the latter part of the first round, where he belongs, the right franchise could set itself up for long term stability behind center. Under the right circumstances, Finley would be able to take over a team’s quarterbacking duties right away. He gets the ball out more quickly, and safely than any other prospect in the class.

Best suited to a team with a strong defensive identity and solid offensive line (it’s worth noting that NC State’s this year ranked sixth in adjusted sack rate and first in pressures per pass allowed), Finley is a coach’s dream. He protects the football. He exhibits a nuanced understanding of the game. He handles pressure well. Despite the outside perception about his arm, he can make every throw, without weakness.

Lamar Jackson deserves to be the first quarterback taken in the 2018 NFL Draft, although there’s a reasonable case to be made for Josh Rosen.

Sam Darnold is riskier, albeit with a higher upside, than Finley, but, no matter what anyone says, most first round quarterback selections are a coin flip, at best.

After that, though, it’s Finley.

Josh Allen does not deserve to be mentioned with any of these players.

Mayfield and Rudolph have both displayed a mastery of the college game. Mayfield may go down as one of the greatest to ever play the position at that level. Still, the professional game is practically a different sport, at this point. There is no evidence that either have any real translatable skills. Granted, they may, it’s just that neither ever has to show it, given the way those offenses work. There’s no way to tell, and it’s impossible to justify passing up a much higher success rate at other positions for that sort of unwarranted risk.

Finle is a pillar of consistency. The epitome of a game manager. And that’s not a bad thing. For whatever reason, that phrase seems to have taken on a negative connotation, when in fact, that is exactly what some teams need.

This is not as strong of a quarterback class that it is being made out to be. Jackson and Rosen are awesome. There are a ton of reasons to shy away from Darnold, but enough potential to justify his spot on day one. After that, it’s not Mayfield, it’s not Rudolph, it’s certainly not Josh Allen.

It’s the safest bet in a sea of unknown commodities. It’s Ryan Finley.

Jim Johnson - Editor of Southern Pigskin, Producer of "Three & Out", and host of "Explosive Recruiting" on the Southern Pigskin Radio Network. E-mail: Twitter: @JimJohnsonSP