The Indianapolis Colts have been searching for a legitimate WR2 to pair with T.Y. Hilton for years now without much success. They’re hoping that former Carolina Panthers second-round pick Devin Funchess could turn out to be that guy.
A few weeks ago, Indy signed Funchess to a one-year deal with a base salary of $10 million that could pay him up to $13 million if he hits all his incentives, per Over the Cap. Whether or not the Colts get a good return on that investment will depend a great deal on how Funchess rebounds from a bad 2018 season and how they use him.
According to Warren Sharp, Colts coach Frank Reich loves Funchess’ size and his route running. He’ll also be fond of what he does on outs and curls, the two routes Andrew Luck threw the most last season. Funchess had a success rate of 80 percent on those routes in 2018.
Frank Reich was elated watching Devin Funchess on film. Loved the fact a big, "physical monster" has the feet he does & runs routes like he does.— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) March 28, 2019
Turns out Funchess was absolutely OUTSTANDING (80% success) on the 2 routes Luck threw the most last year under Reich: curls & outs. pic.twitter.com/rC6qRgIZuR
However, if Indy uses him more in the slot instead of in a classic outside receiver role, those issues could be minimized. According to Evan Silva, Funchess has not dropped a single pass on 55 career slot targets. All 23 of his drops have come on outside targets.
Listened to @mattmano on @adamlevitan's podcast suggest Devin Funchess will man slot for #Colts. Funchess played some TE at Michigan. Drops among biggest knocks on his NFL game.— Evan Silva (@evansilva) March 28, 2019
In NFL, Funchess has zero drops on 55 career slot targets. 23 drops on 246 career outside targets.
At 6-foot-4 with 33.5 inch arms, Funchess has the frame of a typical X receiver. That doesn’t mean that’s where he’s best suited, though. In fact, that size gives him a natural advantage over nickel corners, who are usually shorter and smaller than those covering on the outside. His catch rate in the slot attests to that.
Some would argue that Luck is a more accurate quarterback than Cam Newton, which could also help with Funchess’ production. While that’s technically true, Luck’s career completion percentage is only about one point higher than Newton’s (60.8 to 59.7 percent).
The more important question is what kind of timing and chemistry Funchess develops with Luck. If they put him in the right role and he gets into a rhythm with No. 12, don’t be surprised if he hits those contract incentives and the Colts wind up signing him to a significant extension next offseason.
Source: PanthersWire | Tim Weaver | March 30, 2019