CINCINNATI — The Bengals must have really wanted quarterback Ryan Finley, trading up for only the fifth time in 51 years of draft history Saturday.
But don’t get your hopes up, you Andy Dalton haters. Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan immediately ruled out the possibility that the North Carolina Stater could unseat the eight-year starter this season.
“Andy Dalton is our starting quarterback. That has not changed and will not change,” Callahan said.
However, the fact that the Bengals jumped through hoops to get Finley with the second pick in the fourth round might give the rookie a leg up on last year’s No. 2, Jeff Driskel, in the training camp competition for the backup job.
In the end, Bengals selected six players on offense (two linemen, a tight end, a quarterback and two running backs) and four on defense (two linebackers, a lineman and a cornerback).
SEE all of the Bengals’ picks.
Rookie head coach Zac Taylor said the running game is the starting point for the offense, so adding competition and depth at RB, OL and TE was important in this draft.
WATCH Taylor’s end-of-draft news conference.
After stockpiling late-round picks, the Bengals traded their fourth-round pick (110) and two sixth-rounders (183 and 198) to the 49ers to move up six spots and get Finley, the first-team all-Atlantic Coast Conference quarterback, at 104.
SEE Finley’s draft profile at NFL.com.
The 6-4, 213-pound Finley is not considered a franchise quarterback – not now, anyway, But who knows, with a couple years’ tutoring from QB coach Alex Van Pelt and former Nebraska quarterback Taylor, Finley may make the Dalton haters forget about Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins, Duke’s Daniel Jones and Missouri’s Drew Lock – quarterbacks the Bengals passed up in earlier rounds.
Finley said he was pleased to go to Cincinnati.
“I remember thinking to myself how fortunate I would be if I got to play for the Bengals and all the quarterbacks they have in the building with Coach Taylor being a quarterback, Coach Callahan being a quarterback, and Van Pelt having coached quarterbacks for a long time,” Finley said.
Finley was a three-year starter at N.C. State after transferring from Boise State. As a junior, Finley threw 339 passes without an interception, second in school history to Russell Wilson’s FBS record of 379. Last year, Finley completed 67.4 percent (326-484) for 3,928 yards, 25 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
Driskel, a sixth-round pick by the 49ers in 2016, started the Bengals’ last five games in 2018 after Dalton’s season-ending injury, winning one.
The Bengals beefed up both the defensive and offensive lines in the fourth round, trading up again to take 6-5, 318-pound defensive tackle Renell Wren from Arizona State and then grabbing Ohio State guard Michael Jordan, a 6-6, 312-pounder who was born in Fairfield, Ohio, and grew up in Canton, Michigan.
Jordan said it was always his dream to play for the Bengals.
WATCH Bengals coaches talk about their fourth-round picks.