All offseason fans have been asking the question, how are the Packers going to improve their wide receiving corps for the 2020 season? Without factoring in what they might do later this month in the draft, the Packers answered the questions by signing 5th year veteran, Devin Funchess.
At 6’4” 225, Funchess is a huge receiver that uses his body well and also runs great routes. The Funchess signing is a low risk, high reward option for the Packers who struggled to throw the ball downfield in 2019. Last season, Funchess only played in 1 game due to a clavicle injury but Green Bay seems adamant that won’t slow him down in the future. Before his injury, in 2017 and 2018, Funchess averaged 54 catches per season, 695 yards, and 6 touchdowns.
So here’s my idea on what the Packers could (probably won’t) do with Funchess next season. Green Bay should use him as a WR/TE hybrid. In today’s NFL, versatile players are being put all over the field and not necessarily in one spot. An effective offense is all about ingenuity and creating mismatches. You see this all the time with running backs going out wide or wide receivers going in the backfield, so who’s to say a wide receiver can’t line up at tight end. Devin Funchess would be the perfect player for this role.
Why It Works:
Coming out of Michigan, Funchess answered many questions going into the draft on what position he was going to play in the NFL. Wide receiver or tight end. He obviously went with wide receiver, but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t have been drafted as a tight end either. In fact, he actually played a little tight end early in his college career for the Michigan Wolverines.
The idea of Funchess lining up at tight end for the Packers works because he already has the size thing down. At 6’4” 225-230 Funchess is about the same size as All-Pro George Kittle. Also, as a wide receiver, Funchess already runs great routes, meaning if a linebacker is matched up with him off the line, that should be a completion every time. There aren’t many linebackers in the league who can guard a wide receiver right off the line of scrimmage. A two tight end set consisting of Marcedes Lewis and Devin Funchess could create plenty of mismatches and keep the defense guessing on what type of play the Packers are going to run.
Funchess isn’t very fast, so lining him up across Davante Adams every single play does not seem like the most effective way to utilize him. Funchess has his strengths like I stated before, so why not put him in a position (or formation) where he can showcase them more consistently. He can run great routes and he knows how to use his body particularly well which already sounds like tools for a tight end.
Why It Doesn’t Work:
There are only two reasons why Funchess could not line up as a tight end but they are big ones. Devin Funchess has never been considered a very good blocker. If the Packers lined him up at tight end, opposing defenses would either guess a pass or a run to the opposite side. Even if the Packers are trying to confuse defenses by lining up Funchess as a tight end, it still might not work due to his shortcomings as a blocker.
Another reason why it would be tough for Devin Funchess to play a little tight end is because even though he is tall and has a great wingspan, he still doesn’t weigh as much as most NFL tight ends. This could end up being a problem if he is asked to block a blitzing linebacker and due to his lack of size and blocking ability, he wouldn’t be much of an obstacle.
I say why not? Why not let Devin Funchess line up as a tight end 10-15 times per game. If the Packers are in a two tight end set and one of those tight ends is Devin Funchess, there are so many opportunities Aaron Rodgers has to exploit an opposing defense. Now, I’m not saying to make Funchess your every down tight end or even backup, what I’m saying is why not get creative with formations. Some of the best teams in the NFL have very creative offenses, shouldn’t the Packers do the same?