By Christoper Jason
Position: Wide receiver
Weight: 232 pounds
Coming off of a breakout season from the tight end position in 2013, Devin Funchess was thrust into a positional change to wide receiver in 2014. Scouts were enamored with his mixture of size and athleticism after the 2013 season and they saw him in the Kelvin Benjamin mold; a physical and athletic mismatch on the outside. Although he was hampered by injury, anemic quarterback play and inconsistency in his own game last season, the former Wolverine still oozes with potential.
After underperforming at the NFL Combine by running a pedestrian 4.70 40-yard dash, Funchess bounced back in Ann Arbor at his pro day, posting 40 times of 4.47 and 4.53 seconds. The latter is closer to what Funchess looks like on tape compared to his time he posted in Indianapolis, which may have saved his draft stock.
I wrote a more extensive breakdown on Funchess here, but the Michigan product has a monster upside with a few noticeable, yet fixable flaws. The first thing that stands out with Funchess is his size and length. One would hope that he would do more damage in the red zone but to tell the truth, Michigan’s offense was a disaster last season and he was never given a consistent, accurate passer under center during his three year career. He has a lengthy catch radius, along with a 38.5 inch vertical jump that helps him win jump balls, which will be very attractive to his future quarterback. But he does sometimes lack focus and can drop easy passes that are thrown his way.
As a ball carrier, he is a physical and athletic runner that is hard to bring down after the catch. I believe that his size was underutilized at Michigan, as he was consistently used on screens and quick passes but not very often in the seam or down the sidelines. He flashed and made big plays when he was used downfield but Michigan’s (now former) offensive coordinator liked to get the ball in his hands quickly to let him make plays in space.
Even with his size, Funchess sometimes disengaged when he was pressed at the line of scrimmage and he sometimes mentally checked out of games. This could be because of his frustration of how the Wolverine offense was playing in 2014 or some other problem he was dealing with, including injuries.
Overall, Funchess flashed dominance at times and at other times he was invisible. He still put up good numbers in a lackluster offense but Wolverine fans probably wished that he would have reached his full potential in Ann Arbor. Funchess seems to be a classic case of being born with excellent size and skills but his potential currently remains untapped. Better coaching and/or being injected into a strong locker room at the next level could do wonders for Funchess. Personally, I think that he will be able to reach his lofty potential in the NFL and he should be drafted in the early to mid-second round of the draft.
Where would he fit in New Orleans?
It will not be easy to replace Jimmy Graham’s red-zone production but the Michigan product would give quarterback Drew Brees a big target, who lined up everywhere during his time in Ann Arbor. Funchess would be a size mismatch on the outside versus cornerbacks and even though he underperformed at the NFL combine, he displays good game speed. He is a chess piece that can be lined him up on the outside, the slot or at flex tight end. Funchess is by no means Graham or will replace his production, but he possesses a good combination of size and speed that cannot be taught. If the Saints draft the 6-foot-4, 232 pounder, he could pair up with Josh Hill to lessen the void in the red zone and in the middle of the field left by Graham.
Where could the Saints draft him?
Once projected as a possible first round prospect, Funchess will most likely be available in the second round. The Saints could select the former Wolverine with their second-round pick.