This upcoming season Carolina Panthers’ Cam Newton will have one of the biggest group of pass catchers in the NFL. Tight end Greg Olsen and last year’s first round pick Kelvin Benjamin both stand at 6-5 and Devin Funchess will be joining this group at 6-4. These are three targets who should create matchup problems for opposing defenses and should have a big advantage in the red zone.
Funchess, who played his college football at the University of Michigan, had a breakout year in 2013 with 49 receptions, 748 receiving yards, and six touchdowns while averaging over 15 yards per reception. This past season he saw an increase in receptions (62) but saw his receiving yards drop to 733 yards and only four touchdowns. Three of those touchdowns came in the first week against Appalachian State.
The one thing that stands out watching Funchess play is his size and his ability to line up both on the outside as well as inside. This play he ran a three yard hitch and after making the catch turns up the field quickly to pick up extra yards.
The Panthers could use a player like Funchess on one side of the offensive line and Olsen on the other to force the opposing safeties to focus on the middle of the field. This then would give Benjamin a favorable one-on-one matchup on the outside.
If the Panthers want to move Funchess outside, he has the speed to get down the field and win jump balls over opposing defenders. One of the bigger knocks on Funchess though is his hands, or lack of consistency with catching the ball.
On this play, he is able to jump over the defenders and makes the catch. However instead of using his hands to catch the ball, he pins it against his body. These types of plays won’t work at the next level as NFL cornerbacks are extremely skilled and will be able to knock this ball out more times than not.
This is another play that Funchess shows the poor hands but this time is not able to make the catch, even though it looks to hit his hands clean.
He has shown though that he can catch the ball cleanly with his hands and make spectacular players. This play against Appalchian State is a perfect example of this. On this touchdown, he is able to go up and grab the ball with his hands instead of waiting for it to come to his body over two defenders.
If Funchess can prove his inconsistency catching the ball with his hands was left in Ann Arbor, he should be able to win the number two wide receiver behind Benjamin. If he struggles this offseason consistently catching the ball, he could be regulated to sub-packages and red zone offensive sets.
*All .gifs courtesy of DraftBreakdown.com