Devin Funchess from Michigan is a big target WR that could be an intriguing option for the Patriots in the 2015 NFL Draft. (USA TODAY Images)
As the 2015 NFL Draft draws closer we’ll profilNew England Patriots Possible Target in the 2015 NFL Draft – Devin Funchess, WR Michigae some of the players that may be on the Patriots radar. Some of these players have already been linked to New England as possible targets others, we feel would be a great fit.
Check out our earlier 2015 NFL Draft profiles on PatsFans.com:
DE/OLB Nate Orchard from Utah
WR Tyrell Williams from Western Oregon
DT Jordan Phillips from Oklahoma
DT Carl Davis from Iowa
RB David Johnson from Northern Iowa
CB Steven Nelson from Oregon State
OLB Zack Hodges from Harvard
CB Ronald Darby from FSU
The Patriots return all three starting wide receivers from 2014 and they were productive. Julian Edelman, Brandon LaFell and Danny Amendola were all solid in the Patriots Super Bowl run. Depth behind them was an issue as Aaron Dobson suffered with a foot ailment all season before ending up on IR and 2nd yr WR Josh Boyce ended up on the practice squad. Brian Tyms played sparingly.
The team is hoping that Dobson’s healthy return will give them another reliable option outside the numbers with a big receiver that can go up and grab contested balls in space and stretch the field both vertically and horizontally. They may look to add to their depth by adding another wide receiver in the 2015 NFL Draft; several interesting prospects will be available.
Devin Funchess from Michigan is an intriguing prospect. A converted All-American tight end, Funchess moved to wide receiver as a junior, leading the Wolverines in catches and had a reception in his last 25 games.
Funchess is a big target at 6’5, 230 who excelled in using his size to box out defenders, makes the catch in tight spaces and providing nice yards after the catch. He can stretch the seams of the defense without using breakaway speed as his 4.70 time in the 40 is hardly eye-dropping, but by using height, leaping ability and physicality.
Has a big catch radius and uses his long arms to snag the ball out of the air well away from his body. Has very long arms and big hands.
He runs nice routes but can be inconsistent there at times. He is able to find soft spots in the defense and is a matchup nightmare for smaller cornerbacks and linebackers because of his size. Has an issue with concentration drops as a result from trying to transition into a runner too soon. His production suffered from being the only threat on a very inconsistent Michigan offense in 2014. Poor quarterback play didn’t help his numbers either.
Could use some extra muscle on his large frame and could easily add some beef there in the strength and conditioning program at the next level.
– Huge target at 6’5, will be a red-zone matchup nightmare
– Versatile, can line up inside, outside or as an in-line tight end
– Can make catches in tightly contested spaces and by boxing out defenders
– Won’t beat anyone with speed, has to rely on using his height and size
– Inconsistent hands, too many concentration drops
– Needs to add some muscle on his big frame
Where Can the Patriots get him:
With so many productive wide receivers available in the draft, Funchess should be available in Round 2. Questions to his speed and strength to break the jam on the edge have some scouts questioning his ability to be a productive wide receiver at the next level.
So how would he fit in the Patriots offense? That’s the intriguing part…many compare Funchess to the Panthers Kelvin Benjamin, but Benjamin is much more of a vertical threat than Funchess is. He’s more of a Alshon Jeffrey type, a big WR who can use his size to catch the ball in tight spaces and use the short-to-intermediate part of the field to keep the chains moving.
Lined up outside, Funchess isn’t a deep threat, and the Patriots, for all the lamenting that fans do about needing one, aren’t a deep passing team. But what he can do is use the short to medium parts of the field, both outside the numbers and inside and provide matchup nightmares for opposing defenses.
A red-zone offense featuring LaFell, Funchess, Edelman, with tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Scott Chandler gives both offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and QB Tom Brady with a plethora of big bodied targets that they’ve never had here.
It becomes a pick your poison type of dilemma for opposing defenses as no matter who they cover, there will be a mismatch somewhere else on the field for Brady to utilize. The Patriots like to use the short to medium passing game to move the ball down the field in small chunks, wearing down opponents.
Adding a wide receiver like Funchess to the mix would give them another big-bodied option to do just that. With a player as he is, there is an element of risk-reward but they have the pieces in place to be just fine as they now stand. This would give Funchess time to develop a role for himself and more importantly allow the coaches to find a niche for him.
He’s versatile enough to provide depth in a variety of roles for the Patriots and no one is better than Bill Belichick to playing to a player’s strengths and finding a role for him in the system. That could be at wide receiver or as a move tight end…stay tuned.
Here is a highlight video of Funchess at Michigan: