RSP author David Igono, a former defensive back at West Virginia, explains how 2019 NFL Draft prospect, N.C. State quarterback Ryan Finley forces defenders to tip their hands because of the timing and precision of his drop.
Let’s talk cookies. What’s the difference between soft, homemade cookies and store-bought, mass-produced, breaded sugar discs?
The mouthwatering, warm, and gooey chocolate chip cookies we all crave often have the same quantity and quality of ingredients as the pack of cookies you can pick up at the local gas station. Time is what separates the redundant form of processed baked goods from the anticipated, much-requested family recipe that is fiercely protected by an apron and a rolling pin.
A quarterback’s timing in the pocket is similar to a batch of cookies in the oven. Too long or too short of an exposure to heat leads to ill-formed results.
Ryan Finley of North Carolina State is a quarterback that shows promising pocket awareness. Finley rarely drifts in his drops. Prospects that drift in their drops have a tendency to place undue pressure on their offensive line. This pressure oftentimes blinds quarterbacks from being able to choose the best option. Finley employs a precision and confidence in his drops that implies a command of not only the offense but of the game as it unfolds around him.
By not drifting, Finley forces the coverage to be honest. Defenders have to declare what their man or zone responsibilities are. Crisp footwork also maintains proper route timing for the receivers as they get downfield.
In the clip above, Finley is able to tell a compelling story to the defenders with his drop and his eyes. He, in turn, leverages that scenario with a pump fake to attack the defense. The lack of drift, or overly obvious chopping of the feet, forces the defense into following what seemingly appears to be valid keys to act on.
Drift could have destroyed the timing of this play. Timing is about arm talent, anticipation, footwork, and many other nuanced details. Savvy quarterbacks, like good chefs, understand how to leverage specific details or ingredients to enhance the outcome of the finished result.
This analysis of Finley is only the beginning of what you’ll find every year in the Rookie Scouting Portfolio publication.
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