Carolina Panthers’ wide receiver Devin Funchess had an up and down performance against the Buffalo Bills in the team’s first preseason game. The rookie did finish the game as the Panthers leading receiver with 53 yards on two receptions and was targeted four times. Lead Publisher Brandon Croce breaks down the Good, the Bad and the Ugly from Devin Funchess’ first preseason game.
Devin Funchess first catch came with about 20 seconds left in the first half. Funchess lined up on the left side of the formation and ran an in route about 19 yards down the field. The route itself wasn’t pretty as Funchess stumbled out of his cut. However he was able to maintain his focus and went down low to make the reception.
He didn’t wait long to get his second reception of the game with a 34-yard catch on the first play of the second half. This was Funchess’ best play of the game as he was able to catch it over his shoulder down the right sideline and then have the concentration to get both feet inbounds.
These are the plays that Panthers fans hope to see a lot of. He has incredible size, like fellow teammate Kelvin Benjamin, that he can use this to make the window bigger for his quarterback to throw the ball.
There was one play that would fall under the bad category, a play that he should have made but it is understandable that he didn’t. The play happened on the second play after the two-minute warning in the first half.
On this play, it was 3rd and 15 and Funchess was lined up on the right side. He ran a route deep enough to pick up the first down and Derek Anderson put a pass, while a little wide, that did hit Funchess on the hands. These are plays that he is going to need to make if he wants to have a bigger role in this offense as a rookie.
Funchess last target of the night came in the second half and was probably the worst play he had against the Bills. Two plays after making that great sideline catch, Funchess number was called on a deep route.
Funchess did a good job of shielding the cornerback and getting in position to catch the pass from Anderson. However, what should have been a touchdown fell to the ground as an incomplete pass.
CBS Sports’ Dane Brugler wrote about Funchess in his scouting report prior to NFL Draft:
“Too many drops off his hands on his resume and needs to be more reliable with his focus through the catch. Hand technique needs work, often caught with his hands turned the wrong way downfield.
Not a reliable finisher in contested situations. Tends to think too much about post-catch and will take his eyes off the ball before securing.”
This is something that plagued Funchess at Michigan. He is going to have to really focus on making these kind of contested catches. There is less room to work at the NFL level because of the caliber the cornerbacks and more times than not he is going to be making catches with a defender draped on him. This first game was a good start for the rookie wide receiver but there is still a great deal of work left for him to do.
Follow me on Twitter @BrandonCroce.