N.C. State quarterback Ryan Finley prefers to keep a low profile.
He’d rather avoid the spotlight, and the media, but he doesn’t live under a rock.
The fifth-year graduate transfer has noticed his name in a few NFL mock drafts. Finley, an erudite person, is not quite sure what to make of the fantastical elements of the mock-draft universe
Finley, who still has a year of eligibility with the Wolfpack, has been projected to go as high as No. 2 overall.
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The decision about his future, he said, will be made after N.C. State completes the regular season on Saturday with North Carolina and after he has had a chance to process the information from the NFL draft advisory board.
“I really haven’t heard much actual information about that,” Finley said of his draft stock. “I’ve tried to focus on the season and when that happens, it happens.”
Finley, 22, in his second year as N.C. State’s starter, has at least played his way into the first-round conversation. He has completed 63.8 percent of his passes (268 of 420) for 2,996 yards with 16 touchdowns and five interceptions.
Finley has NFL size (6-4, 210 pounds) and has what scouts like to call “arm talent.” He’s smart with the ball and makes quick decisions in the pocket.
He set an N.C. State record with 45 completions (for 415 yards) in the season-opening loss to South Carolina. He started to get more NFL attention after a breakout performance (367 yards) in N.C. State’s 39-25 win over Louisville on Oct. 5. He turned in another strong performance in N.C. State’s 38-31 loss to Clemson on Nov. 4.
UCLA junior Josh Rosen and USC third-year sophomore Sam Darnold are generally considered the best quarterback prospects in the draft. Finley is projected in the second wave with Louisville’s Lamar Jackson, Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph and Wyoming’s Josh Allen.
The CBS Sports mock draft, which had Finley going to second overall last month, now has him going No. 21. A four-round USA Today mock draft has Finley going early in the second round.
Finley has been in a unique position since he got to N.C. State. He graduated from Boise State and transferred in 2016.
Due to a combination of injuries and that he was able to graduate in three years, Finley arrived at N.C. State with three years of eligibility. Typically, graduate transfers only have one year.
Finley potentially finds himself in a similar situation to the one Mitch Trubisky was in last year at UNC.
Trubisky’s plan was to come back to UNC this season for his senior season. His draft stock was at the point, though, where it didn’t make sense for him to stay in school.
The Chicago Bears made Trubisky, a one-year starter at UNC, the No. 2 overall pick. Trubisky has been the Bears’ starter since Week 5 of the NFL season.
N.C. State coach Dave Doeren said next week he will submit the names of the underclassmen on his team to the advisory board for an evaluation. Right tackle Will Richardson, defensive end Darian Roseboro and running back Nyheim Hines are also likely to go through the process.
Last year, Doeren went through the same process with Bradley Chubb and Josh Jones. Chubb decided to come back for his senior season. Jones decided to leave and was a second-round pick of the Green Bay Packers.
“There’s a lot of things that go into it,” Doeren said.
It took about 30 days to get the evaluation back from the NFL last year, Doeren said.
Both decisions worked out for N.C. State’s underclassmen last year. Jones was the Packers’ top choice (they didn’t have a first-round pick) and he has carved out a role on their defense.
Chubb, who had a first- or second-round grade last year, has turned in an All-American type season and has positioned himself to go in the top 10 of the draft next spring.
Finley said Chubb’s success in coming back wouldn’t be a factor in his decision.
“I think it’s just all up to that player and what they feel,” Finley said. “Whether they want to come back or whether they don’t, whether they feel they have more to prove at this level or not.”
Finley was then asked if he felt he had more to prove at the college level.
“I don’t know,” Finley said laughing. “We’ll have to cross that bridge when it’s over.”
Joe Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio