2019 NFL Draft QB Stock Watch: Ryan Finley regains top spot, Jake Browning back into top five
After somewhat of a slow start, the veteran NC State quarterback put on a show against Virginia
Ryan Finley isn't going to wow scouts with the physical elements of his game, but they don't hold him back from making every throw on the football field.
NC State's quarterback has a smooth release that doesn't appear to generate the requisite velocity, yet he's rarely if ever late at the intermediate levels, and he can push the ball downfield when needed.
Drew Lock overtook Finley for the top spot when the Wolfpack's game against West Virginia was cancelled because of Hurricane Florence. After a strong outing against Virginia -- with Lock idle -- Finley jumps back to No. 1.
Here's the latest edition of QB Stock Watch.
1. Ryan Finley, NC State: Stock Up
Finley had a grouping of downfield overthrows in the first half against Virginia, which were somewhat countered by what's become his patented anticipation throw from the far hash to the sideline and a gorgeous touch pass for a score with pressure in his face in the second quarter. His best throw of the day came when he probably could've stood in against a three-man rush but moved to his left and threw a laser to Kelvin Harmon between two defenders near the sideline.
His last touchdown of the afternoon was a gorgeous back shoulder to Harmon to put the game out of reach in the fourth. Beyond his early misfires deep, Finley was tremendous. Decisive and accurate.
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2. Drew Lock, Stock Steady
Lock and the Tigers were idle this week. They face South Carolina on Saturday.
3. Justin Herbert, Oregon: Stock Up, Slightly
Herbert has found his rhythm in his junior season, having completed 42 of his last 55 passes with three touchdowns and one interception. It was a low-volume outing for Herbert in the Ducks' road win over Cal. It featured a pinpoint accurate TD pass with plenty of zip through a very tight window on a deep crossing route early in the game.
He also made an awesome back-shoulder toss during a four-minute-drill touchdown drive before the half, before an easy score to Dillon Mitchell on a go route with just under three minutes to play in the second quarter. His receivers did have a few drops, and he had an overthrow deep. A few times, I noticed him leave relatively clean pockets, but only once did he ultimately run into pressure. Good, steady performance.
4. Will Grier, West Virginia: Stock Down, Slightly
Two things that seem to be constants for Grier; impressive pocket patience and a severely lacking arm. Both were on display often in West Virginia's narrow victory over Texas Tech Saturday afternoon in Lubbock. The Heisman candidate lofted a beautiful touchdown late in the first quarter on a shot play with his receiver a half step behind the outside cornerback. All day, he worked the shotgun play-action slant or dig, and it was typically totally wide open. A few times, his lack of arm strength led to the inside-breaking route being broken up.
He missed Gary Jennings downfield for a walk-in touchdown but found him a few minutes later on a back-shoulder pass in the front corner of the end zone. Grier unloaded a rope down the seam through traffic on a big 3rd-and-26 play late in the game that probably would've gone for a first down had it not been dropped. The numbers might say otherwise -- 27 of 41 for 370 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions -- but from a NFL projection standpoint, Grier was not super sharp against the Red Raiders.
5. Jake Browning, Washington: Stock Up
Browning was surgical all night in Washington's 35-7 handling of BYU at home. He started 11 for 11 and finished a ridiculous 23 of 25 for 277 yards with one touchdown and a rushing score. He didn't "over-improvise" and calmly scanned the entire field on the majority of his drop backs.
When Browning finds an open man, he's quick to deliver the football, and accuracy is a strength of his game. While not having a monster arm, he's more than capable of firing the deep out across the field that requires plenty of anticipation. His pocket movement was improved against BYU compared to earlier games this season. Browning's vast experience really shows each week.
Honorable Mention: Brett Rypien, Boise State
Rypien is now into his fourth year as Boise State's starter, and he'll head into his fifth game of this season completing over 70 percent of his passes with 12 touchdowns and no picks after a fine effort in the win over Wyoming. He went 28 of 42 for 342 yards with two scores. Both of those scores were demonstrations of high-caliber quarterback play.
The first was fit between two oncoming defensive backs down the middle of the field in the front of the end zone. The second came late in the game when Rypien looked left before placing a deep ball perfectly in his receiver's hands down the right sideline.
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