Ohio State defeated Michigan as expected, but I wanted to watch Devin Funchess today. Seattle is crying out for a big target. I’ll have a post on Dorial Green-Beckham on the blog either tomorrow or Monday. If he doesn’t declare — or if the NFL is put off by his back-catalog of problems — Funchess is pretty much the only other draft option if we’re talking about an early pick.
It’ll be a travesty if Amari Cooper doesn’t go in the top 10 — putting him out of reach. DeVante Parker and Kevin White are both in the 6-2 range without great size. White in particular is a tremendous competitor. But Seattle is surely looking for unnatural size? Someone who can act as a pure possession receiver and a genuine red zone problem. They don’t have to use a first round pick — but they might want to. If Marshawn Lynch remains and with the defense suddenly back to its best, they might feel like it’s the biggest off-season need. We’ll see. Duke’s Issac Blakeney is a good mid or late round alternative. There are others. But what about Funchess?
He’s 6-5 and 230lbs. Now we’re talking. That’s the size. He’s had an inconsistent career at Michigan and that’s continued this year. The Notre Dame outing was a good example. He had nine catches for 107 yards and yet it could’ve been more. He had drops. He didn’t impose his will on the defense. It was a rotten day for the Wolverines (losing 31-0) but you just came away thinking, “nice size, but is he special?”
Today was a much more impressive display. It was his final opportunity to create an impression before inevitably turning pro. And on this evidence you can make a case for the Seahawks looking at him.
Initially he was used in the short passing game — taking a wide receiver screen for five yards before converting the third down on a short inside route on a quick throw. A lot of the shorter stuff opened up the chance to take a shot with 3:15 left in the first quarter. Funchess ran a post and on play action from the shotgun, Devin Gardner threw downfield. It was single coverage and a classic 1v1 over the middle. The pass was slightly underthrown but Funchess boxed off the defender, gained position and just went up to get the football. This was all about size and strong hands. The corner couldn’t get around Funchess’ frame to get near the ball. He had no chance to out-jump him either. The Seahawks don’t have anyone who can do this at the moment. The play went for 45 yards (you can see the catch here).
After that he generally worked the sideline effectively. With 13:37 left in the second he gained separation on an out-route to the left. Gardner threw a low, ugly pass. Funchess plucked it off the turf again showing control, strong hands and some athleticism to get his big frame down low to make a difficult grab. First down. On the very next play he took another WR screen for six yards.
With 10:17 left in the third he again gained separation on an out-route to make a 15-yard catch, just managing to get a toe in-bounds. And with Michigan chasing a lost cause with 2:57 left in the game, Gardner threw a late pass that should’ve been picked. The corner had position to make a break for the football. Funchess turns without leverage and somehow takes the ball away from the defender. It was a tremendous catch. Big mitts, strong hands. Just took the ball away. It showed he can be more than just a big target — he has some natural ability as a catcher.
Funchess’ final stat line was seven catches for 109 yards. He also drew a holding call on a route into the endzone.
The key thing is — he’s open even when he’s not. And that’s what the Seahawks lack right now. Someone who you can deliberately overthrow. Someone who will go up and get a pass. A receiver who can use his body to gain leverage and hold position. Someone who doesn’t need to rely on separation or the perfect pass to make a play. Someone who can win 1v1.
I’m not blind to the issues either. He has been inconsistent. You want to like him more than you actually do. You’re not drafting Megatron here. You’re not even drafting Vincent Jackson. But the Seahawks need a redzone threat and someone with this kind of size. They know it too. So do you accept some of the issues to fill a need? Maybe. It’s not an overly ‘Seahawky’ pick but maybe that’s why they’ve not been able to solve this problem? Funchess could be 2010 Mike Williams for a few years. That wouldn’t be such a bad thing.
It’s difficult to judge his stock. He played tight end until this year and many believe he’ll return to the position in the NFL. The inconsistent play is on tape — but how much of a pass does he get for the constant changing of offense during his time at Michigan? Or the struggles of Devin Gardner and the team in general? More importantly — how will he perform at the combine? Is he capable of hitting the early 4.6’s at that size? Kelvin Benjamin had a 4.61 at 240lbs.
Benjamin is perhaps a decent comparison. He was a more natural receiver, he had a little nasty to his game. But he too was inconsistent. Funchess hasn’t had the chance to play on an unbeaten National Championship winner with a Heisman winning quarterback. Would he put up Benjamin-type numbers at Florida State?
If he blows up at the combine he has every chance to go early, just like Eric Ebron this year. If he’s simply decent, he could be available in the second round. Would they take a chance? Perhaps — depending on whether they find their answer in free agency. If they’re able to bring in a Julius Thomas, however unlikely that seems, this becomes a moot point. Jordan Cameron’s on-going concussion problems could put the Browns off, but will it put off other suitors too? And with so many defensive line options set to hit the market, Seattle could be in position to take a chance on a big target. It might be time to just take the plunge, especially if they really do find a way to live with Marshawn Lynch (they have to, surely?).
Dorial Green-Beckham is on another level in terms of raw talent. But Funchess comes without all the baggage. Eventually Seattle needs to take a chance on a big receiver or tight end. They’ve skirted around it so far, taking chances in the later rounds. And yet it would add so much to the team.
— Bud Dudpree (DE, Kentucky) is such a fantastic prospect. A big-time character guy, he’s a terror rushing the edge. Today he had a tremendous sack/fumble leading to a touchdown for Mike Douglas. Dupree’s been the heart and soul of the team in Kentucky for several years. He’s going to be a first round pick and possibly an early one too.
— Joey Bosa (DE, Ohio State) is going to be a high pick in 2016. He had another big day against Michigan. Big time pass rush prospect with great size too.
— La’el Collins (T/G, LSU) had a tremendous game in a victory over Texas A&M on Thursday. Time and time again he moved people off the ball in the running game. I think his future at the next level will be at guard, but he’s going to be a top, top player. For me he’s a more exciting player than Chance Warmack who went in the top ten as a pure guard.
— I like Melvin Gordon, but Indiana’s Tevin Coleman is right up there in the running back stakes. Today he had 130 more yards in a tough win over Purdue. It took him over 2000 yards for the season. Coleman might be the superior player. Might be.
— Missouri’s Markus Golden is finally healthy and having a huge impact. We’ve been discussing him since last year — when he became the only player in 2013 to show up brilliant first round pick Ju’Wan James. In the last three games — all wins — he has 6.5 TFL’s, four sacks and two fumble recoveries. He’s the complete package — size, speed, the ability to get off blocks and work against the run. He’s a beast and should be a first round pick.