NFL Mocks has the Bengals finishing poorly in 2018 and replacing Andy Dalton with their quarterback of the future: NC State’s Ryan Finley.
Only three months after the 2018 NFL Draft, it seems early to start looking ahead to the 2019 NFL Draft. However, NFL Mocks has already done a full first round mock of the 2019 draft. Their mock casts a poor light on the Bengals, but it might not be inaccurate if this season goes awry.
For starters, the mock draft has the Bengals selecting 10th overall. As a reminder, the Bengals went 7-9 in 2017, and has the 12th pick in the most recent draft. To end up with the 10th overall pick would mean the team would flop this year and finish around 6-10. That record would be an unmitigated disaster for the Bengals.
The mock then has the Bengals selecting Ryan Finley, a quarterback from North Carolina State. Finley was a prospect who could have declared for the 2018 draft, although he would have been a likely Day 3 selection. I had Finley ranked as the 11th best quarterback in last year’s class. By coming back to NC State, Finley has the chance to improve his skills and enter the 2019 draft as one of the best QBs in a weaker class.
NFL Mocks’ logic for the Bengals’ selection was simple. A poor showing in 2018 (such as 6-10) would likely be the end of the road for Marvin Lewis and Andy Dalton. Three straight years of missing the playoffs is unacceptable with the current makeup of the roster. The Bengals would not have to pay dead cap on Dalton if they cut him after this season, either. 2019 might be the season for a hard reset and a new signal caller.
The only issue I take with the mock, using that logic, is the specific quarterback they chose. Finley is one of the top quarterbacks in the class, but his skill set is virtually identical to Dalton’s. He is a good decision maker, throws accurately on short and intermediate routes, and can make some plays deep. Finley can also scramble a little bit. Those skills are scarily similar to Dalton – so much so that Dalton might be Finley’s NFL comp.
If the Bengals are going to reset in 2019 and ditch Dalton, they need to make a significant change at quarterback. The top two QBs in next year’s class will likely be Missouri’s Drew Lock and Auburn’s Jarrett Stidham. To be fair, both Lock and Stidham are off the board by the Bengals’ pick in this mock, but the Bengals may have to trade up to get their QB of the future.
Lock and Stidham would both be better upside selections than Finley for the Bengals. Lock is a stereotypical spread quarterback who has dynamic playmaking ability. Missouri runs a high-octane offense, and Lock is the cog for the Tigers. He has a phenomenal deep ball and can make plays outside the pocket – similar to Patrick Mahomes.
Stidham, on the other hand, has some Cam Newton equity. He’s not the passer or runner Newton is, but has the raw arm talent to make every throw on the field. Stidham also makes plays with his feet, and he has the size to be a powerful open field runner. He won’t be Cam Newton, but he can do his best to be a Newton copycat.
All in all, if the Bengals have a top ten pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, they likely will select a quarterback. However, I would prefer Lock or Stidham, or even a Trace McSorely in the second or third round, over Finley. Finley would be too similar to Dalton to enact any real change in the Bengals’ offense. I would rather see the Bengals trade up to get an elite signal caller for the future. Hopefully, this discussion is moot, and the Bengals finish 2018 above .500.