The Rookie Scouting Portfolio’s David Igono reveals the philosophy of pocket movement with a subtle display of skill from N.C. State quarterback Ryan Finley, a 2019 NFL Draft prospect.
Consistency is the currency of starting quarterbacks. The more a quarterback can take risk off the table in his decision-making process, the harder it is for that offense to be contained. When studying Ryan Finley’s game, he is almost always seeking the easiest target.
He’s not trying to break the pocket and run for a first down. The pocket for Finley is a like a wet pool deck — and running around pool decks is prohibited. There’s wisdom in this approach because when you run, the weight of your body is ahead of you and that’s trouble. Step on a puddle of water, and your balance is gone.
The deftness of Finley’s feet in this exposure tells a story that illustrates a quarterback’s understanding of the risk-reward nature of being an athlete-first at the position. As Finley climbs the ladder in the pocket notice how his weight is mostly underneath him. This allows him to protect himself and the ball while also buying more time to target a receiver.
Staying in the pocket gives a quarterback the greatest array of viable options on any given pass play. By stepping up into the pocket, Finley forces the defense to stay honest in coverage. He also forces the pass rush to recalculate its path.
Manipulating a pocket as a quarterback has a wide spectrum of application. As we know, it can be as dramatic as breaking arm tackles and throwing it downfield or as subtle as reducing the lead shoulder and climbing the pocket to hit a check-down route.
Ryan Finley of North Carolina State shows he can employ a subtle and refined touch, which isn’t an easy task for many NFL quarterback prospects.
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