The Cincinnati Bengals weren’t messing around on the final day of the NFL Draft.
They traded up six spots with the 49ers to get the second pick of the fourth round Saturday and selected North Carolina State quarterback Ryan Finley at No. 104 overall. They gave up two of the team’s six sixth-round spots.
Cincinnati still had another pick in the fourth round and took Arizona State defensive tackle Renell Wren at No. 125, but stayed aggressive and traded up with Dallas to get a third player that round. The Bengals moved their fifth-round pick and another sixth-rounder to take Ohio State interior offensive lineman Michael Jordan at No. 136.
Offensive coordinator Brian Callahan said the staff didn’t necessarily leave Paul Brown Stadium on Friday night planning to trade up to get Finley, but he was a guy they were targeting and decided not to wait.
The Bengals were looking to add a quarterback to develop behind Andy Dalton, and Finley was one of the only players at that position they brought in for a visit. He had also taken visits with the Redskins and Lions but felt Cincinnati was a perfect fit.
“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.”
Finley was a first-team All-ACC selection in 2018 after completing 67.4 percent of his throws for 3,928 yards, 25 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. His 339 passes without an interception ranked second in school history to Russell Wilson’s FBS record of 379.
Rated by NFL.com as a third-round prospect, draft experts called him “a poor man’s Jared Goff,” so it’s no wonder Taylor, the former L.A. Rams quarterbacks coach, liked him. Finley heard the comparison but remained modest about it.
“I’m just a good decision-maker,” Finley said. “I think I’m extremely accurate, throw with anticipation and I think I just know situational football and will always have our team in a good position to be successful.”
Finley began his college career at Boise State but redshirted as a freshman in 2013 because of shoulder surgery and then added another year with a medical redshirt before eventually transferring to N.C. State in 2016.
Asked how he feels about the assumption he comes in to back up Dalton (which Callahan emphasized is still the plan), the 25-year-old Finley said he wasn’t worried about that.
“I’m ready to compete and ready to learn,” Finley sad. “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.”
Wren, listed at 6-foot-6, 290 pounds, struggled to get on the field until his senior year in 2018 when he started 13 games at nose guard and finished with 43 tackles, 4.5 for loss, one sack, and two pass breakups to earn honorable mention All-Pac-12 honors. He said he is just hitting his stride and was grateful the Bengals saw his upside.
Jordan (6-foot-7, 312 pounds), 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.
Cincinnati’s decision to move up for Jordan, after taking Alabama tackle Jonah Williams in the first round, shows a commitment to bolstering the run game. Jordan has the versatility and length to play guard or fill in at tackle in a pinch.
“I’m in love with this pick,” Bengals offensive line coach Jim Turner said.
Turner likely had a big say in the team’s first sixth-round pick, as the Bengals selected one of his former Texas A&M running backs. 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 broke out in a big way as a junior in 2018, earning 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 scoring 15 times on 252 carries (6.1 average). He also caught 27 passes for 278 yards (10.3 average) and a touchdown.
Cincinnati rounded out their sixth-round picks with Auburn linebacker Deshaun Davis at No. 210 and Oklahoma running back Rodney Anderson. Davis (5-foot-11, 234 pounds) recorded 112 total tackles, 15.0 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks as a senior in 2018. Anderson (6-foot, 224 pounds) has been limited by injuries throughout his three years with the Sooners and played just two games last year as a junior after rushing for 1,161 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2017.
The Bengals concluded the draft by taking South Dakota State cornerback Jordan Brown in the seventh round at at No. 233 overall. The 6-foot, 201-pound All-American had 29 tackles, three interceptions and a team-leading 12 pass breakups as a senior.
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