CFB Saturday notes: Devin Funchess impresses in defeat

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.


  1. Turp


    The reasoning for drafting a big target seems exactly the same as last year. I was really surprised when we chose not to – I was really hoping for Cody Latimer in the 2nd round :(. I wonder if they will approach this draft any differently…after all, last year was the best WR class in ages and they still went with a small dude with jets (maybe a hedge for a guy they traded to the Jets) instead.

    Perhaps managing their salary cap at TE will be enough of a reason to draft a big TE target.

    • David

      I remember hearing and it could just be a rumor but the hawks actually targeted Matthews (whose now with Philly ) but got cute and i believe Philly traded up ahead of Seattle and selected the Vandy product. I think they were hoping Norwood (similar size) would be able to contribute.

      • Rob Staton

        I think this is probably just a rumor — they seemed pretty enamored with Richardson.

        • David

          Yeah not sure where i read it or what. might of been fieldgulls but not sure haha. it was just recently too. ugh! haha.

          It’d be nice if Brandon Coleman would become available without having to sign him to the active roster.

  2. CC

    Funchess would be a nice addition – the other guy who played well is Waller from GT 6’5″ but likely a mid to low rounder. With the extra compensatory spots, he might be someone to consider. Waller probably runs in the 4.5s – Funchess may not make a low 4.6 and we know how the FO love speed.

    If we keep playing well and get into the playoffs and beyond, I wonder if either Funchess or DBG are still there when we pick.

    If Moeaki stays healthy the rest of the year, I think we should sign him again.

    I really want to see us get a red zone target! Even this year – stick Norwood in there and see if he can be that guy!

    • CC

      Rob – the other flyer I could see is Kyle Prater NW – 6’4″ 220 – committed to USC and likely scouted by Pete. Had injuries and ended up playing closer to home. If he hasn’t lost his speed, UDFA might get a look.

      • Rob Staton

        I’ll see what I can find out about him. Thanks for the heads up.

        • Michael (CLT)

          Prater is a stud. Coming back from injury. Has had a decent year while gaining strength and confidence. Karen Williams would be nice 7th round fliers.

          • Michael (CLT)

            * Kasen Williams and Prater would be nice 7th round fliers

    • Rob Staton

      Green-Beckham is such a fascinating case. Enough problems that every team in the league might pass in every round if he declares. Enough talent to go in the top-15 even with the issues. I’ve already written a post on him and it’ll be up in the next couple of days.

  3. Jon O

    Word in Ann Arbor was Funch ran in 4.4’s in spring. As a HUGE Michigan fan, he is as disappointing a prospect we have seen in years. He needed a coach to ride and teach him like Soup Campbell taught Braylon Edwards. Funch is not a TE. He is a below average blocker for a WR.

    As for Bud Dupree – he is my favorite prospect in the entire draft. He looks perfect for the Leo and could be an immediate impact that the Hawks have lacked from a draft pick since Russell and Bobby.

    In terms of needs and value, I would love Dupree in round 1, Big Funch in round 2 and OG Laken Tomlinson in round 3.

    • Rob Staton

      Thanks for the info on Funchess. It’s good to get a Michigan take.

      Totally agree on Dupree — one of my favorites too. Such a fun player to watch. Big time leader. He’ll be a top pro.

  4. connor

    I think Devante Parker is the best receiver in the draft. Whether he is 6’2 or 6’3 he high points the ball very well.Combine that with his speed and YAC ability after the catch, and you have something that looks like a number 1 receiver. Unfortunately I doubt we’ll have a chance to get him, unless teams make the mistake of looking at his quiet personality as a negative.

    Another guy who is interesting is DeAndre Smelter. Big body receiver, with a baseball background. Still pretty raw, plays in a offense where he has to run block a lot, and does a great job high pointing the football making plays over DB’s. Seems very Seahawky to me.

    • Rob Staton

      Parker is a good player. He’s not better than Amari Cooper IMO. Plus teams will fall in love when they meet Cooper during interviews. But he has a legit shot to be the second or third receiver off the board. I’m not sure he has the kind of size Seattle needs. Not the type IMO who can make the most of 3-5 targets only. Will get good production in a heavy target offense.

      I’m not sure on Smelter — as you say, still raw. Looks thicker in the lower body. Well built. Doesn’t look very fast at all. Worth monitoring at the combine though.

    • Ukhawk

      Agree on Parker but think he goes earlier. Has a 4.39 40, 36.5 vert,10’10” broad, 80″ wingspan, 17 @ 225 bench…the guy is an athletic freak. Had a streak of 10 straight TD games broken by injury; production speaks loudest. All he does is out jump in the red zone; isn’t that what we need??

      Agree on Smelter too. Doesn’t look slow to me (see the cushion he is given Rob?) & simply overpowers DBs. Again production is the measuring stick

  5. House

    I have seen many comparisons for Funchess being similar to Jermichael Finley. I think the BMW comparison fits just as well. A mismatch guy that can move the sticks and open things up. We’ve needed a guy like this SO BAD and it would only transcend out offense. Whether he lines up at WR or TE, he gives us options.

    After watching Luke Willson the past 2 seasons, if he could get over repeat ankle injuries, I think he still has a bright future! Getting a guy like Funchess to line up opposite Baldwin/Kearse would scare defenses

    • Rob Staton

      Funchess for me is very similar to BMW. Same type of size and same level of inconsistency. You’d be bringing him in to add a dimension but not transform the passing game. If they have any faith in Dorial Green-Beckham, he could transform the passing game. But that’s a big ‘if’.

  6. Ed

    Helfert has shown he can play and make plays. Norwood has shown he has great hands. Richardson has shown some speed and moves. I really think it’s the system and trust. System does not work with personnel. Long drops when we don’t have time and minimal ingenuity. Watch the routes, terrible. Wilson doesn’t trust the young guys, but with an offseason that should improve. I am all about the lines.

    Maybe a VJack and Odrick/Paea as FA and drafting DL first two picks:

    1. B. Dupree
    2. G. Wright

    • Rob Staton

      I’m not against them focusing on the D-line in the draft, but they need a big target one way or another. If for no other reason than the red zone. Seattle has a terrible red zone offense. They need someone who can take a fade, someone who can provide a mismatch in coverage. It’s vital. They cannot go through another year without a quality red zone receiver or tight end.

      It’s more than scheme too. In the past they’ve attacked the red line and challenged the receivers to win 1v1. Golden Tate wasn’t huge but was unnaturally excellent at competing for the ball in the air. They’ve totally gone away from that. Whatever kind of drop the QB takes, they need someone Wilson can throw it up to. Someone with size who can box out a defender and not require an inch perfect delivery. Wilson has to be so precise at the moment — or scramble.

      • Ed

        Besides VJack, any other veterans an option?

        • Rob Staton

          I guess it depends if someone like Andre Johnson is released. I’m not convinced D.Thomas or D.Bryant will get to free agency. Seattle relying on vets like VJax being cut or available for a cheap trade.

          • Alaska Norm

            I think the issue with FA wide receivers is the Seahawks style of play. I just can’t see any of the top guys coming to Seattle for 2-3 catches per game…. Unless we overpay. A trade or the draft seems like the only real option. I think we have a better chance of going after a defensive or offensive lineman in FA and look for the receiving threat through the draft. Unfortunately this years receivers appear to be on the weak side.

            Besides Fuchess, who is not what I would consider a TE… Who stands out to you in this draft? I have a pretty good feel for the receivers but not very up on the TE. Thanks again rob.

            • Rob Staton

              I’m yet to see a tight end this year — even looking ahead to 2016 — that I’m excited about. A real dearth of talent there. It’s perhaps just as well Moeaki is performing well. They might need him next year.

  7. Seth

    I have a friend that went to high school with Parker. The story goes that he was a basketball player and never wanted to play football until his senior year at school when the coach convinced him to play. After one year Charlie Strong gave him a scholarship. He reminds me a lot of Golden Tate really. If he plays for a pass happy team it will be great for him. Still like for the Seahawks but we need other things first like d-line and TE. Really like O’Leary, would love to have him replace Miller.

  8. Volume 12

    Why not Baylor wr Antwan goodly? Before I get my head bitten off for him not having adequate ‘size’ I think this kid is golden Tate inside of Anquan Bolden’s body with Tate’s height. Pretty unique wr. If they’re looking for unnatural size isn’t 5’10-5’11/220 lbs unnatural? This kid is a freak athlete, former basketball player, team leader, has faced big time adversity in his life, high character, etc. He runs a 4.3-low 4.4, has close to a 40” vert, will put up close to if not more than 20 reps on the bench press. He high points it extremely well, fights for contested balls, makes the most of his opportunities/targets, could be used on jet sweeps, and the screens that Bevel loves so much and we could use him in the red zone like Tate. It seems to me te is a more prudent need it just seems like ever since they signed moeaki RW has played more like what were used to seeing. And if I’m not mistaken we did win a SB with Tate as a no.1. I’m not against a big time target, but to quote a current radio host ‘sometimes big-time receivers are like sports cars.”

  9. John_s

    Not sure is you specifically need a 6’5″ guy. You need a guy 6’2″ or bigger with great size, balls skills and the ability to break tackles.

    Demayrius Thomas, Josh Gordon, Jordy, Julio and Dez are all 6’2 or 6’3. In that mold I was impressed with Duke Williams from Auburn. He has a phenomenal ability to make contested catches and he runs with a purpose after he has the ball. I think Mayle from Wazzu is raw but he has the size and explosiveness to be a good one he’s just needs more experience and learn to run routes

    • Rob Staton

      It’s frame, control and power to with height and reach. Demaryius is 6-3 and 229lbs. Gordon is 6-3 and 225lbs. Julio is 6-3 and 220lbs. Dez is 6-2 and 220lbs. All have excellent size. I’m not sure Williams will declare — he’s only had a single year at Auburn after moving from the JUCO ranks. He is an option though — very fluid, excellent control. He’s around 215lbs.

      It’s one of the reasons I’m not overly keen on Devante Parker and to an extent Kevin White for Seattle. Parker is around 6-2/6-3 but only 208lbs. White is a little bigger but plays above his size with great technique and physicality. I think Seattle needs unnatural size.

  10. CC

    I thought Vince Mayle might be a prospect, but after watching him drop several balls and my Dawgs hold him in check, I don’t see him fitting in with Seattle.

    Kasen Williams made a nice TD catch and went up to get the ball and he will get a look somewhere – but again, unless his 40 time is under 4.50, he might have to join Keith Price up in Canada.

    • Hay stacker509

      The apple cup was not a good showing for mayle. It was -3 with wind chill, that type of weather will make the football like a rock. Not making excuses but you have to take the situation in context

      • CC

        But I’ve watched other games as well – Mayle drops too many balls to be a guy the Seahawks need. Given that he’ll either be a low rounder or UDFA, there seem to be better options.

  11. Michael (CLT)

    Bud Dupree at 32 please.

    I’d rather take a flyer in th 7th on the guy from ECU (Worthy), or Prater from Northwestern, or Mayle.

    I don’t see Avril being affordable next year. Pressure is more important than big WR.

    • Rob Staton

      I think Dupree goes top-15.

      • Michael (CLT)

        Agree. Dupree was superb this weekend. What an amazing display.

  12. Michael (CLT)

    I’m willing to replace Dupree with Golden.

    LEO will be a premium need this year. Moreso than big WR, LG, or DT.

    • Michael (CLT)

      One more note. I think Seattle can do no wrong drafting D from Missouri. Ealy has played fairly well for a poorly run Carolina team (sad face). Their DT (Vincent), would be a nice addition for pass rush and decent stoutness against the run.

      Missouri just has an awesome, mean, sticky D. They look like the collegiate Seattle.

      What a great weekend of football.

      • Rob Staton

        Vincent would be a wise addition. They’re loaded on that D-line. The RS Soph three tech is good too.

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