2018 NFL Draft QB Stock Watch: It's time to jump on the Ryan Finley hype train
The veteran Wolfpack quarterback isn't just a one-game wonder -- he's been efficient all season
Yes, I'm talking about Ryan Finley, the calm, cool, and collected NC State quarterback who has demonstrated a plethora of NFL-caliber quarterbacking skill running the show for the 5-1 Wolfpack this season.
Fresh off his best game of the year, a 20-of-31, 367-yard, three-TD, zero-pick performance against Louisville, the 6-foot-4 quarterback has yet to throw an interception in his redshirt junior campaign and has 10 passing touchdowns in five games. He has consistently fired lasers from the pocket to all levels of the field.
Jump on the Finley hype train now. It's ready to leave the station. He's a legit, top-flight quarterback prospect in the 2018 class.
Here's a look at the updated stocks of the draft's top signal-callers.
Rudolph got to hang with Mike Gundy as the head coach got his fantastic 1980s mullet trimmed over the weekend, as Oklahoma State was idle. I don't know that for sure, but imagine the conversations inside that barbershop. Rudolph's next four games will tell us a lot and potentially will cement his stock. He has Baylor at home on October 14. After that, a trip to Austin to face an improving Texas team. Three days before Halloween, a date with West Virginia and the "Country Roads" signing fans in Morgantown. The next weekend ... Bedlam.
2. Josh Rosen, UCLA
Something tells me Rosen didn't spend Saturday at a barbershop with his head coach. Anyway, the UCLA quarterback has slowly crept his way back into the No. 2 spot with consecutive quality outings against Stanford and Colorado after his iffy outing against Memphis.
3. Sam Darnold, USC
Oregon State has had a multitude of problems this season. Darnold was supposed to have a fine outing against the Beavers, and he did. He was a true point guard, distributing the ball to essentially his entire group of pass-catching options. However, he lost the football a few times and threw his worst interception of the year on a play in which he clearly didn't see the underneath linebacker.
Every Darnold game features a variety of unreal throws. And, in 2017, they include a few "yikes" decisions too. In the end though against Oregon State, he completed 23 of 35 passes for 316 yards with three touchdowns and one pick. The October 21 battle against Notre Dame will be quite a barometer for the redshirt sophomore.
Could Louisville get Jackson some help on offense? Goodness. His offensive line is average at best. His wide receivers are about as reliable as the weather forecast, and his running backs are mediocre. I thought Jackson was good, but not great against a loaded NC State defense.
There were the typical scintillating escapes from free rushers -- quite the luxury for an offensive coordinator -- and the new-and-improved step-up-from-pressure accurate throws downfield. Jackson is absolutely carrying his team this year, and the maturation he's showcased as a passer this season will (rightfully) intrigue many NFL GMs and scouts.
5. Ryan Finley, NC State
Finley completed 60.4 percent of his throws with 18 touchdowns and eight interceptions at 7.6 yards per attempt in 2016. Heading into this week's action, his completion percentage is 70.9 with 10 touchdowns and no interceptions at 7.9 yards per attempt. And, no, this isn't a a box-score scouting report.
All season, Finley has repeatedly checked two or three of his options across the entire field from the pocket, made assertive, accurate passes to all levels of the field, and even displayed some scrambling ability. Right when the announcers were calling for some deep passes against Louisville, Finley delivered. There's plenty to like about his game, and his strengths translate to the NFL level.
Honorable Mention: Jake Browning, Washington
The second straight week for the Huskies quarterback earning an honorable mention nod. Like Rosen, Browning has quietly pieced together an efficient season thus far. Last year, he relied on two things: the long ball and John Ross. This year, he's leaned on Dante Pettis at times but hasn't force-fed him the ball. He's completing more than 70 percent of his throws at 8.5 yards per attempt with 14 touchdowns and just three interceptions.
Browning is the opposite of Josh Allen. He's smaller than the prototypical NFL quarterback and doesn't have a rocket arm; however, he's smart with the football and rarely inaccurate. I'm pumped for Browning vs. Rosen on October 28.
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