Updated Aug. 7, 2014
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.
Michigan's Devin Funchess was awarded the Big Ten's tight end of the year award in 2013 after he totaled 49 receptions for 748 yards and six touchdowns. Funchess was a dynamic weapon who presented lots of mismatch problems for defenses. Surprisingly, Michigan decided to move Funchess to wide receiver full-time in 2014.
Physically, the 6-foot-5, 230-pound Funchess is a tweener between a tight end and wide receiver. For the NFL, the smart move would have been for Funchess to add weight and fill out his frame to help his blocking ability. At his size, Funchess has an advantage over many NFL defensive backs, but he could struggle to gain separation from cornerbacks. It's much easier for a player like Funchess to get separation running against linebackers and safeties compared to the fastest players on the field.
Receiving tight ends are a rage in the NFL, as they present so many mismatch opportunities. Funchess could have been a potential first-round pick if he stayed at tight end while gaining some weight and improving his blocking. Eric Ebron was a top-10 pick this year, while Tyler Eifert went in the top 25 the year before. Every team wants to find a Jimmy Graham weapon for their offense.
Both Ebron and Eifert needed work as blockers when they entered the draft, thus Funchess could easily have received that same high-round consideration. Now, he looks like just another big receiver who may lack the speed to separate in the NFL. Those players are a dime a dozen and typically get selected in the mid to late rounds. Funchess was more special as a tight end. Don't be surprised if NFL teams move him back to that position in a year or two.