B.J. Finney knew his life would change when he stopped being a college football player. He just didn’t realize how sudden or radical the changes would be.
Less than three weeks have passed since his Kansas State career came to an end at the Alamo Bowl, and already everything feels different.
The former walk-on turned starting center from Andale is pursuing a NFL roster spot instead of leading the Wildcats’ offensive line. He is training for himself instead of his team. And he is learning new blocking techniques that will help him impress scouts and adjust to the next level.
Those alterations were magnified for Finney last week while playing in the East-West Shrine Game.
“One thing I wanted to do was be coachable, so I scrapped all the things I had been taught,” Finney said. “I threw everything out from K-State and learned from my offensive line coach at the game, Howard Mudd.
“I studied his technique and played like he wanted me to, because that is what they want to see, how well you adapt and take coaching. The new schemes conflicted with what I knew and felt very foreign compared to what I did at K-State. But I told myself, ‘I’m at the Shrine Game. I’m no longer Coach (Bill) Snyder’s player. I have to do it this way.’”
The approach worked, as Finney saw significant action at both center and guard.
He has no idea when or if he will be selected in the NFL Draft, saying some experts have told him he will be picked in the middle rounds while others project him to go undrafted. Finney returned home feeling good about his efforts.
With the help of his agent, Vann McElroy of Select Sports Group, Finney spoke with representatives from nearly every NFL team.
Dane Brugler, a senior analyst for NFLDraftScout.com, rated as the top offensive lineman at the game, writing that he was the top interior blocker by a wide margin.
“Part of that are the struggles of the other players at the position,” he wrote, “but also because Finney has been that good. He moves his feet well with quick snap-and-set up, using his body angles and mechanics to shield defenders from the pocket.”
“It was a week-long job interview,” Finney said. “I thought it went well.”
Well enough to build on as he continues to prepare for the draft, which starts April 30? That’s the hope, but that journey is just beginning.
Finney will spend the next few months in Manhattan, training and taking classes at K-State. Many pro prospects travel to training centers in other states, but he prefers to keep things simple.
His goal is to lose 10 pounds and add quickness before working out in front of NFL scouts at K-State’s pro day on March 10. There is also a possibility he will be invited to the NFL Combine next month. A good performance at either workout could boost his draft stock.
It may seem strange that the 6-foot-4, 318-pound blocker has to prove anything new to NFL scouts after starting for four years at K-State, leading the way at center in the majority of 52 games while being named Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year as a senior. He was also a three-time captain.
But that is the nature of the NFL Draft.
Good pro-day numbers mean potential, and potential can mean as much or more than college accomplishments.
Finney has already begun treating football like a business, so he understands what is at stake.
“All I am trying to prove right now is that I can play,” Finney said. “All I really need is an opportunity, and I can make the most of that. It doesn’t matter where or at what position. I’m going to work hard until it happens.”