Patriots a 'perfect fit' for undrafted RB Finch

Patriots a 'perfect fit' for undrafted RB Finch
May 16, 2014, 8:30 am
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FOXBORO -- Running back Roy Finch is a creative runner because he has to be. At 5-foot-6 and 177 pounds, he can't be a put-your-head-down-and-hope-for-the-best kind of back.

That's not to say he can't run with power. He can.

But he seems to be at his best when he uses each of his many attributes in succession, one move coming within a blink of the last. His highlight reel is a blur of jump cuts, spins, explosive bursts through holes in the line of scrimmage and broken tackles.

Some of his runs are impressive scores of well-planned body movements synched-up with an almost panoramic level of vision, but he says there's not a whole lot of thought that goes into them.

"Just score," he said of his mentality in the open field. "Break a long one and just be explosive with the ball in my hands no matter where I’m at."

That's what the Patriots are hoping for now that they've signed Finch as an undrafted free agent. The undersized running back met with local media for the first time on Thursday at Gillette Stadium, and he described his game.

"I can be spotted pretty much anywhere on the field," said Finch, who played some slot receiver and returned kicks in college. "I’m very explosive. I can catch. I’m just excited to learn and be in whatever position I can be in to help this team win."

Finch had an up-and-down career at Oklahoma, seeing inconsistent playing time under coach Bob Stoops, going from starter to reserve more than once over the course of his four years there.

As a senior in 2013, he made two starts and appeared in all 13 of his team's games, taking 59 carries for 347 yards. Still, he was more of a backup with home-run potential than a heavily-relied-upon fourth-year player.
 
Asked if it was frustrating to have his playing time spike and fall from year to year -- and sometimes week to week -- Finch kept a level head. He said he didn't know why he wasn't used more and called the situation "unfortunate," but that's as far as he went.

"I took it in stride and knew there was a greater purpose, and something greater was going to happen," he said. "I’m here, and I’m working hard."
 
He continued: "We won a lot of games at Oklahoma. It was just great to be part of the Big 12 championships and that Sugar Bowl. It was exciting to win a lot of games, a lot of teams aren’t fortunate to win. That’s what you want to play for, to win."

Finch said he didn't have any private workouts with NFL teams leading up to the draft, but apparently he didn't need one. His pro day at Oklahoma may have been impressive enough for the Patriots to show interest.

He ran a 4.44-second 40-yard dash and had the best three-cone drill of any Sooner (7.14 seconds). He also posted a whopping 22 reps on the 225-pound bench press test, which would have been fifth-best at the NFL Combine among running backs.
 
In New England, Finch will wear No. 29, bringing a little different look to those digits. Six-foot-1, 250-pound bruiser LeGarrette Blount sported that number in 2013.
 
"It was kind of crazy because I wasn’t really hearing a lot," Finch said of draft weekend. "My agent was just telling me to stay patient, stay calm and everything will be OK. When the Patriots called they were my favorite team since I was little, it was a perfect fit. My agent didn’t consider other teams. I guess he knew the Patriots for a while, and he was like, ‘This is the perfect fit for you.’ "

Might that mean New England is the place where his creativity will be allowed to be put on display with some consistency? 

Finch knows he'll have to learn the pro game, and the Patriots' system in particular, before he gets a shot to put his improvisational skill to work.

"I’m excited to learn and get better each day," he said. "Nothing is guaranteed."