The Indianapolis Colts have made their first splash of free agency, agreeing to terms with former Carolina Panthers wide receiver Devin Funchess. The deal has a 10 million dollar base salary that can increase to 13 million with incentives over the course of one year. Whether Funchess is a quality player— which we will look at in this piece— the deal is a low-risk, high reward opportunity for the Colts.
Let’s take a look at what Funchess brings to the table and where he will need to improve.
6’4” 225 pounds
40 Time: 4.70 / Bench Reps: 17 / Vertical Jump: 38.5 inches / Broad Jump: 122 inches
Career Stats (NFL):
161 catches for 2,230 yards with a yards per catch of 13.9 and 21 touchdowns in four years in the NFL.
Who would have thought that the biggest positive in a 6’4” 225 pound receiver’s game is his route running? I was honestly shocked. Funchess breaks down his hips excellently and sets up routes with a great jab at the stems. His double move is deadly as he beat numerous good corners with head fakes and quick feet. When running ins and outs, he flattens well without rounding off his route and also fights back towards the quarterback.
Our first clip shows how sudden and agile he is with his breaks. He is running an out-route with the defense in soft zone coverage. His priority is quickly getting to the zone between the corner and linebacker before the two can react to the ball. He gets up field with great quickness and uses an excellent jab to flatten his route to the sideline to make the catch. This is not a flashy or elite play but showcases the agility that pops on tape.
The double move may be the most impressive route in his arsenal, especially the slant fade. Against the Eagles in this route, he sells the inside slant with a good head fake and quick steps. He then breaks down his hips quickly and changes direction before dusting Ronald Darby for the touchdown.
Did I mention how well he jabs to create separation? Here is yet another example of it. He is working against Quinton Dunbar of the Redskins on this zig route. He sells the inside slant perfectly as Dunbar rolls with him. Once he gets good distance inside, he hits the brakes and changes direction quickly, leaving Dunbar far behind. This route is textbook and it is all because of Funchess’ superb change of direction ability.
He can stop on a dime for a big receiver as well. With the Panthers trailing late, the Falcons know they have to keep the offense away from the sideline. The goal for Funchess is to sell the vertical route up field to open the sideline comeback. He sells it well with body language and a head fake, then puts on the brakes after about ten yards. The smaller corner (Robert Alford) struggles to stop and the result is a big catch. Great footwork along the sidelines as well.
This last clip is just artwork. Matched up with one of the best corners in football on this route (Darius Slay), Funchess is able to beat him out of his break. The route is a simple deep in but the way that he changes direction and breaks down his hips allows him to be so open. The amount of space he creates on a relatively simple route concept against a top corner really shows his nuance and skill as a route runner.
Catching Away from his Frame
The biggest knock on Funchess is his drops, and we will get to it. Surprisingly, though, Funchess displays strong hands. He just doesn’t have great technique when catching. When he is coming back to the ball and extends his arms away from his frame, he is often secures the ball without an issue.
This first clip is a deep out that cornerback Quinton Dunbar does not bite on. He stays in Funchess’ hip pocket and rolls with him to the sideline. Funchess makes an excellent adjustment to the ball as it is thrown. He works to the sideline and then fights back towards the pass. While working back to the ball, he extends his arms and uses his long frame to shield the defender away, making an impressive hands catch along the sidelines.
Does this look like someone with poor hands?
Again working against Dunbar (I swear he is a better corner than this article shows), Funchess makes an impressive hands catch. He goes to his patented double move to create separation on the outside. Once he reaches the endzone, the ball is a bit underthrown. He adjusts to the poorly thrown ball and catches it with his hands over the defenders back, while his facemask is getting grabbed. Big, strong hands on full display in traffic.
While I believe his hands are better than stats suggest, drops are a big concern. His main issue is consistent use of proper technique, as he allows too many passes to hit his chest. This turns easy catches into incompletions.
Other notable issues on film that I won’t highlight are his sub-par blocking skills and struggles to create after the catch.
The first drop is a routine catch that he misses due to poor hand placement. He goes for a basket catch when he should extend to catch the ball away from his frame. The ball hits his arms and bounces away.
Again just poor technique on this second drop. The ball is thrown a bit low on this slant route and instead of going low with his hands to catch the ball, he decides to slide down for the catch. The ball hits him in the chest and bounces away incomplete. If he is going to slide there, I’d still like to see him extend his hands. Don’t allow the ball into your chest.
This next drop is poor timing along with poor technique. Funchess is slow to get his head back to the ball and struggles to shield his body away from the defender. He is late to get his hands up, allowing the ball to hit his chest and fall incomplete. To fix the drop problem, he must stop allowing balls to hit his chest.
Last play may be hard to label as a drop but it is an example of a player that a receiver with his size and stature is expected to make. He fools Slay again with a double move to create separation. Then he mistimes his jump and lets the ball hit him in the chest, resulting in a dropped pass. Hopefully Nick Sirianni and Kevin Patullo can coach him out of these rather routine drops.
Devin Funchess is a good fit in the Colts offense as their number two receiver. His route running, strength, and ability to catch away from his frame are the perfect make up for what Coach Reich looks for in his offense. Add in that he can also be a valuable red zone threat and I really like the fit. He does struggle with smaller details such creating after the catch, drops, and run blocking but those are areas to work on as a role player.
I honestly went into this film room expecting to see a big bodied receiver who catches tough passes but struggles with easy ones. I came away thoroughly impressed with the level of nuance and athleticism in his route running and see the potential for a big year with Andrew Luck and TY Hilton on offense.
He may not be a star receiver but he is an excellent role player. This signing certainly could fail but on a one year deal it is essentially a no risk chance on an athletic, skilled 24 year old receiver.