Do you remember where you were when the Carolina Panthers drafted wide receiver Devin Funchess? I do! I was at Cowfish, this great restaurant that serves both sushi and burgers. I was sitting near a TV because I didn't want to miss the NFL Draft. I was about to bite into my delicious burger covered with BBQ and then I heard that the Panthers were on the clock. They traded up from no. 57 overall to the 41st pick to select..... wide receiver Devin Funchess out of Michigan University.
I was so surprised by this pick. Several NFL Draft experts often spoke about Funchess lacking "vertical talent" with "below-average" hands. He had at least 20 drops over the last three seasons and struggled with 50/50 balls.
But what excited the Panthers and their fans was his size. He is a 6'4" big-bodied receiver who was considered a matchup nightmare. The opposing defenses would have trouble covering him in the end zone and this would create better red zone opportunities.
Panther fans were very optimistic going into the 2015 NFL season with the deadly duo of wide receivers Kelvin Benjamin, and Devin Funchess. But the tide turned when Benjamin had a season ending injury (ACL) and Funchess was already dealing with an hamstring injury. So this limited Funchess' reps during the preseason.
Well Devin Funchess is healthy now so what has he done this season?
Week 1: 2 targets and 1 reception for 9 yards. One of the missed targets was a drop and he played as the fourth wide receiver.
Week 2: 4 targets and 1 reception for 15 yards.
Week 3: 4 targets and 1 reception for 14 yards. This one reception really showed Funchess' toughness because he was hit hard by New Orleans Saint's linebacker Stephone Anthony. He held on and drew a flag for the hit.
Week 4: 2 targets and no receptions.
Through the first four games Devin Funchess has only three catches for 38 yards. But he currently sits behind receivers Ted Ginn Jr., Corey Brown, and Jerricho Cotchery on the depth chart. So he isn't getting a lot chances like the starters but his role should continue to grow.
I wanted to know how his stats compared to the other wide receivers who were drafted in the 2nd round and beyond, so I asked my friend Tony over at E-Editorials.com to gather some data. Check out the chart below!
There are only four wide receivers who have at least 10 receptions and those players are Tyler Lockett, Ty Montgomery, Jamison Crowder, and Keith Mumphrey. All four of these receivers also have over 100 receiving yards, and Crowder is leading the way 204 yards. But Montgomery is the only one that has scored at least one touchdown. Funchess has single digit receptions but he isn't that far behind when it comes to touchdowns.
How do these stats compare to the best rookie seasons for wide receivers who were drafted in the 2nd round? Check out the chart below!
Devin Funchess has been compared to wide receiver Anquan Boldin for his size and physical play. This isn't a bad comparison because Boldin was the 2003 Offensive Rookie of the Year, and was drafted in the 2nd round just like Funchess. But the Panthers' offense is a run first team who relies on their defense. So I don't see this happening. But I do see Funchess becoming a bigger part of the offense. I think he will play an important role when the Panthers play the Seattle Seahawks this week.
Do you think the Carolina Panthers would have been better off drafting a different wide receiver?
By, Justin Raymond
Follow Me On Twitter @JayRay19