Taylor gets his QB as Bengals draft NC State’s Finley
CINCINNATI (AP) — The Bengals waited until the fourth round to get coach Zac Taylor a quarterback who reminds him of the one he just left.
Cincinnati traded up to get Ryan Finley from N.C. State as Andy Dalton’s backup — for now, anyway. Dalton has two years left on his deal, and Finley will get time to learn Taylor’s system as a reserve and see what develops.
“I do want to make something very clear before we start: Andy Dalton is our starting quarterback,” offensive coordinator Brian Callahan said. “That has not changed. That will not change. We think very highly of Andy and what he’s going to do in our offense.
“We do think competition is good. It’ll be good for our position. It’ll be good for the backup job for sure.”
Dalton missed the last five games last season with a thumb injury that has healed. Backup Jeff Driskel started the last five, completed 59 percent of his passes, averaged 153 yards and had a 79.6 passer rating working with an injury-depleted unit.
Finley has been compared to Jared Goff , whom Taylor helped develop as the Rams quarterbacks coach before coming to Cincinnati as head coach after their Super Bowl loss to New England. Cincinnati, Detroit and Washington brought him in for visits, so he knew the Bengals had a keen interest.
Quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt said Finley was the only quarterback the Bengals brought to town for a visit with a thought of drafting him. They also met with a quarterback from a small college whom they considered signing as a free agent.
Finley went to a steakhouse with Cincinnati’s coaching staff after his arrival in town and spent a half-hour the next day with Taylor, hitting it off. Finley impressed the Bengals with his ability to remember and analyze blocking schemes. He also knew he was the top quarterback on their draft list.
“I was really excited to have that visit, and it was a really good visit,” Finley said.
The Bengals hadn’t taken a quarterback so high in the draft since they got Dalton in the second round in 2011. They took AJ McCarron in the fifth round in 2014 as Dalton’s backup.
“Ryan is a kid that makes really, really good decisions,” Callahan said. “He’s accurate and throws on time. He displayed all three of those at a high level at N.C. State.
“We had him targeted all along as a quarterback we thought would fit for us at the right place. We felt he was there for the taking and instead of waiting to see if he fell, we were going to take him.”
The Bengals spent four of their first six picks in the draft on offense, adding a left tackle , a tight end, a lineman and Finley. They also traded up for another fourth-round pick Saturday and took Ohio State center Michael Jordan, who will compete for a guard position. The offense finished 26th last season, a year after being last in the league in yards gained.