In a recent interview with NFL.com the Panthers' second round draft selection, Devin Funchess, stated he wanted to win the OROY award. Just the other day, at a rookie symposium play 60 event, Devin Funchess provided us fans with few more interesting sound bites. He talk about his frustrating time at Michigan, and what Panther fans can expect out of him this coming season.
"We never got to see the full Devin Funchess at Michigan because I did play one season at wide receiver, and I was battling through an injury," Devin Funchess said Friday at a Play 60 event at Cleveland Browns headquarters for the NFL's rookie symposium. "I think up here in the NFL I can make some damage."
Devin Funchess played receiver coming out high school before moving to tight end in college. As a freshman he only registered 15 catches for 234 yards and five touchdowns before making the leap as a sophomore with 49 catches for 748 yards and six touchdowns. At the start of his junior season in 2014, Funchess moved back to wide receiver with expectations that his production would continue to grow. Instead, the team quarterback Devin Gardner and the entire Michigan offense regressed. Michigan struggled through the season and finished a disappointing 5 - 7, resulting in the firing of head coach Brady Hoke. Funchess spent the season battling through a toe injury he described as a torn ligament, some cracked bones and ruptured cartilage. Funchess struggled mentally with his injury and the teams poor performance, as a result he finished with the year with a pedestrian 62 catches for 733 yards and four touchdowns. Due to those various struggles, Devin put together a very inconsistent game tape, sometimes lacking in explosion and sometimes lacking in effort.
After coming to Carolina, wide recievers coach Ricky Proehl has had multiple conversations with the rookie and getting his head right. The two have specifically talked about putting the past behind him, and the hard work Funchess will need to put in going forward. In a new situation the rookie recognizes the opportunity he has playing on a winning team, and a talented offense as well. No longer is Funchess going to be the sole focus of the defense; Playing with guys like Cam Newton and Kelvin Benjamin, Funchess is far from is the scariest man on the field. Once you throw Pro-Bowler Greg Olsen into the mix, Devin is going to be an after thought to most defensive coordinators.
Funchess thinks that he and the 6'5 Benjamin should be able to make life hard for NFL defensive backs, and he's right. Just because both Funchess and KB are big guys does not mean they are the same type of athlete, these two will be able to take advantage of match ups differently than one another. It's clear watching film of Funchess that he is a faster, smoother athlete than KB, but he is still learning how to use his size and strength. If the rookie can learn the finer points of the position he has as much potential as any other receiver in his draft class. Combine him with an even bigger, stronger receiver coming off of his own 1,000 yard rookie season, and the sky is the limit for these two.
"We're going to be a dynamic duo, two 6-5 guys out there on the outside just making damage and causing havoc on the field," Funchess said. "You never see that type of duo in the league, two 6-5 guys on the outside that are athletic and that can run and go up and get the ball. Nobody has that wingspan in the league like us, so it's going to be fun during the season."
Yes it is Devin, yes it is.