Heading into the 2015 NFL Draft, the Buffalo Bills are in the market for a playmaker with size that can attack defenses down the seam. The team hasn’t caught up to the rest of the league in terms of finding a “new-age” tight end that’s used as a mismatch in the slot as an oversized wide receiver. Michigan’s Devin Funchess doesn’t offer the in-line ability that Greg Roman’s offense calls for from the tight end position, but he could be a player that intrigues the Bills as a red-zone/contested catch receiver.
In his three years with the Wolverines, Funchess racked up 126 catches for 1,715 yards (13.6 yards-per-catch) and 15 touchdowns, showcasing athleticism and explosiveness as a featured player in Brady Hoke’s offense.
At 6’5” and 235 pounds, Devin Funchess is a fluid athlete that can beat defenders over the top, while showing off great leaping ability and body control to adjust to passes. His combination of size and quickness allowed him to win from the slot, on the outside and on short-to-intermediate routes from the tight end position.
In the following clip Funchess battles with the defensive back, maintaining body control and balance before turning his hips and getting inside leverage. He turns downfield and tracks the ball, making an impressive catch for a huge gain.
At the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine, Funchess disappointed when he ran a 4.7 40-yard dash, but he plays faster than his timed speed. He’s got incredible long speed, picking up speed the farther he runs and can take the top off a defense, which made him such a threat on vertical routes at Michigan.
Funchess was used on a variety of route concepts at Michigan, from go routes, crossers, drags, screens and jump balls. He’s raw from a technique standpoint, as his long strides prevent him from running crisp routes but he’s able to create separation with his speed and subtle pushing off. He understands leverage and uses his body to shield himself in front of defenders, which allow him to be “open when he’s not.”
On vertical routes from an outside receiver position, he consistently uses his hands in order to get inside of cornerbacks and push them closer to the sideline.
Devin Funchess has some of the most inconsistent hands I’ve seen. He flashes a rare ability to win in contested situations, tracking the ball and timing his jump to attack the ball at its highest point.
But, while he’ll make these tough catches, he’ll also have several drops a game, particularly in the middle of the field where there’s traffic. He’s not a natural hands-catcher and tends to let the ball get into his pads too often, which results in some pretty awful drops.
When used as a blocker from the tight end position, Funchess doesn’t offer much. He doesn’t use his length to latch on to defenders and tends to shy from contact when he gets out to the second level.
Far too often, Funchess will opt to just get in front of a defender, rather than using his physical abilities to engage and drive them downfield.
How He Fits the Bills
Devin Funchess doesn’t project to the tight end position in the NFL, as he lacks the physicality and blocking ability to operate along the line of scrimmage. However, when aligned in the slot as a receiver, he’s too big for nickel cornerbacks to defend, and too fast for linebackers to cover. Funchess needs some refinement in his game, but he’s just 20-years old and presents a great deal of upside to any offense that will utilize him correctly.
Projection: 2nd Round
Player Comparison: Marques Colston