Name: Benjamin "B.J." Finney
School: Kansas State
Size: 6'4, 320 lbs
Expected Round: 3rd-4th
Strengths: 4-year starter, 3x captain, 3x First Team All Conference, Conference Co-Lineman of the Year as a senior, set a team record for starts with 52. Agile run blocker with functional strength to pivot defending linemen out of rushing lanes. Quick lateral movements to pick-up blitzers and to pass off defenders. Great weight to sit in his stance to swallow up a bull rush. Fluid at getting to the second level as a blocker up the middle and doesn't overextend to risk missing on blocks.
Weaknesses: Not as fluid or quick when asked to pull block. While he plays to the whistle, he doesn't drive his defenders to take them out of the play, even if he seems to be in a position to pancake them. At times allows defenders to get leverage and gets high in his stance, even if his size prevents the pocket from collapsing.
What is their role? Finney is an immediate starter at center or a slightly developmental prospect at right guard.
Will it change from year 1 to year 2? Give him half a year in the system and he could be a franchise right guard for a long time.
How many downs can he play? He's an every down player, including field goal units.
Which current player will he beat out? He will beat out every guard prospect on the roster, other than Ryan Wendell, and would allow Wendell to slide over and play left guard.
What's his ST value? He can help on field goal units. Don't expect him to flash a Dan Connolly level of ability at kick returns.
Does he have positional versatility? Finney was at right guard for his first career start, but then started the next 51 games at center. He was asked to play tackle in two games as a senior due to injuries.
Why the Patriots? Finney is a bargain as a late-Day 3 or an early-Day 4 selection and could be a plug-and-play starter. After Bill Belichick tried the "play a tackle at both guard spots!" experiment to start the 2014 season, the offense settled down with three former centers taking the interior. Finney provides positional flexibility, as well as much needed size to strengthen the offensive line.
Why not the Patriots? The center is inexperienced as a pull blocker, which is a crucial skill for a guard in the Patriots offense. If New England has their eye on a more polished guard prospect, then Finney could become redundant with how the draft plays out.
Verdict: Finney started for four seasons, but he actually wasn't awarded a scholarship. He was a walk-on who had to work his way for a scholarship. He's a team leader, he's versatile, and he's a fighter.
He gets it from his father, who passed away from a heart attack in 2004. His father, also Benjamin Finney, was an EMS Lieutenant who helped coach B.J. to become a state champion in both wrestling and football.
"When your back's against the wall, what are you going to do?" Finney posed when asked about overcoming adversity. "Are you going to lay down and give up? Or, are you going to fight until things start going your way? The way I was raised, you never go out without a fight."
Finney spent his first year at Kansas State on the scout team, before being named the scout team MVP and earning his scholarship.
"B.J. is a young guy who walked on into our program, earned a letter (and) became a starter right away," Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder said. "Became a captain immediately. Is so invested in what we do and how we do it. Has a value system in place that allows him to do exactly that. Hard worker. Disciplined. Cares. Great teammate. Good person. Quality leader.
"You can go on and on. In fact, he's had a tremendous impact on a lot of young people in our program."
The Patriots have an inside view of Finney since Glenn Gronkowski, youngest brother of Rob Gronkowski, is the fullback for Kansas State.
While there are clear concerns about his fit at guard due to his inexperience at pulling, all signs point to him giving a total effort to succeed at what is asked. He needs to work on his technique, but he has the tool set of a long time NFL starter.
By all accounts, he a tremendous human being, a mentor for all of his teammates, and he even likes to hunt. The only remaining question to see if Finney would be a perfect fit for the Patriots offensive line is whether or he can grow a beard. I have him graded as an early second round prospect.