The Cincinnati Bengals set the tone for their day when they traded up to get N.C. State quarterback Ryan Finley with the second pick of the fourth round Saturday during the NFL Draft.
They would later make a move to add a third pick that round, but as aggressive as they were to get Finley, Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan wanted to make one thing clear: Andy Dalton is still the team’s starting quarterback.
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“We think very highly of Andy and what he’s going to do in our offense, so we’ll get that out of the way to start,” Callahan said to open a press conference at Paul Brown Stadium as the fourth round continued. “We do think competition is good. It’ll be good for our position. It’ll be good for the backup job for sure. For those guys to compete, it’s going to bring out the best in our quarterbacks for sure. We’re excited to get Ryan in here and get him started.”
Cincinnati traded up six spots with the 49ers to get Finley at No. 104, but Callahan said the staff didn’t necessarily leave the stadium on Friday night planning to do so.
Finley was one of just two quarterbacks the Bengals brought in for a pre-draft visit, so they decided not to wait any longer to get the guy they were targeting to develop behind Dalton. Finley had also taken visits with the Redskins and Lions but felt Cincinnati was a good fit.
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“Anything can happen in the NFL Draft, but I did think the visit went well, and 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 (Zac) Taylor being a quarterback, coach (Brian) Callahan being a quarterback, (Alex) Van Pelt having coached quarterbacks for a long time,” Finley said on a conference call with local media Saturday. “I just remember thinking how fortunate I would be if I could just be around so many quarterbacks’ minds.”
As a sixth-year senior in 2018, Finley completed 67.4 percent of his throws for 3,928 yards, 25 touchdowns and 11 interceptions to earn a first-team All-ACC honor. Rated by NFL.com as a third-round prospect, draft experts called him “a poor man’s Jared Goff,” so it’s no wonder head coach Zac Taylor, the former L.A. Rams quarterbacks coach, liked him.
Asked how he feels about the assumption he comes in to back up Dalton, the 25-year-old Finley said he wasn’t worried about that.
“I’m ready to compete and ready to learn,” Finley said. “Obviously, I’m excited for the learning curve of the NFL, and obviously I’ve been in college for a long time now so I’m ready for that next step, that next town, kind of whatever I need to do to help the team as early as I can, I’m going to do that.”
Cincinnati further showed their faith in Dalton by adding more depth to the offensive line when they made a move to get Ohio State center/guard Michael Jordan as a third pick in the fourth round. The Bengals had taken Arizona State defensive tackle Renell Wren (6-foot-6, 290 pounds) before that at No. 125, but stayed aggressive and traded a fifth and sixth-round pick to Dallas to get Jordan at No. 136.
Jordan, who was born in Fairfield, followed Bengals’ 2018 first-round pick Billy Price at center for the Buckeyes, but spent the first two years of his career at guard. Jordan declared for the draft after his junior season and landed with his dream NFL team when the Bengals selected him.
The 6-foot-7, 312-pound lineman should help bolster the running game and take some pressure off Dalton.
“We love his position versatility,” offensive line coach Jim Turner said. “He can play all of the interior spots. He’s big and has size and athleticism. He checks all of the boxes for us. It’s fun to get another local kid in here as well. He’s a really good player and has everything we’re looking for on the interior of the offensive line.”
Turner likely had a big say in the team’s next pick, as well, when the Bengals selected one of his former Texas A&M running backs in the sixth round. They took Trayveon Williams at No. 182 overall, as Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley announced the team’s selection at a live-telecasted event at Triangle Park to honor the original 13 NFL communities.
The 5-foot-8, 208-pound Williams earned first-team All-SEC and second-team Associated Press All-American honors by finishing in the top five nationally with 1,524 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns.
Cincinnati rounded out the draft by taking Auburn linebacker Deshaun Davis at No. 210 and Oklahoma running back Rodney Anderson at No. 211 in the sixth round and South Dakota State cornerback Jordan Brown at No. 223 in the seventh round.
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