ESPN NFL draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. on Wednesday released his Mock Draft 2.0, which has the New England Patriots selecting Michigan wide receiver Devin Funchess with the 32nd pick in the first round. Here’s a little more on the wideout:
His skill set: While Funchess began his college career as a tight end, he projects best as a wide receiver with downfield big-play abilities. Funchess lacks in the blocking department, which would make him a liability as a traditional tight end. At 6-foot-4 and 235 pounds, Funchess doesn’t have the frame to compete every down as a tight end and is primarily a pass-catcher. With underrated speed and a big catch radius, Funchess is able to create separation even in small windows. He is a good route-runner, though he relies on his size and catch radius to create separation and needs to work on making space with his actual route-running. In his time at Michigan, Funchess did have some drops, though a lot of his production woes (62 catches, 733 yards, 4 touchdowns in 2014) are related to the team not having a true passing quarterback (Devin Gardner and Denard Robinson) or other viable receiving threats at any time during his three years in Ann Arbor. Funchess doesn’t necessarily have one skill that separates him from the bunch. However, his size and underrated quickness make him a matchup nightmare.
His value: Kiper Jr. doesn’t have Funchess among the top 25 on his big board, though Todd McShay has him at No. 23 in his list of the top 32 NFL prospects. With a class deep in wide receivers -- Alabama’s Amari Cooper, West Virginia’s Kevin White, Louisville’s Devante Parker, Ohio State’s Devin Smith, Arizona State’s Jaelen Strong, and former Missouri wide out Dorial Green-Beckham -- there is an abundance of first-round talent among the pass-catchers. Yet, Funchess could be a steal at pick 32. Big receivers like the Buccaneers’ Mike Evans and the Bears’ Alshon Jeffery have found success despite being labeled as big and slower than the rest. Funchess could have a ceiling close to Evans and Jeffery thanks to his big-play ability.
How he fits: Funchess fits as a No. 3 receiver who can create matchup issues with his size. He can line up outside, make plays over the middle and even line up close to the line as a stand-up tight end. He can also be another red-zone target. The Patriots already have a player similar to Funchess in tight end Tim Wright, but Funchess has a better skill set and higher ceiling than Wright.