Gary Kubiak likes big receivers. That was the one thing this offense lacked in 2014, even though it was still effective.
Therefore, in ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr.'s first mock draft of the offseason, he has the Ravens taking one at pick No. 26 in Michigan receiver Devin Funchess. Funchess was recruited as a tight end before becoming more of a receiver. He's 6-foot-4, 235 pounds and came into the college game with a lot of potential.
Here's Kiper's reasoning as to why Baltimore would/could/should/etc. take Funchess:
"It's not really fair to call Funchess a tight end based on where he typically lines up, but at more than 6-foot-4 and at about 235 pounds with the ability to simply overpower most cornerbacks, he's not exactly a flanker, either. What I'd call him is a perpetual matchup problem, a guy you can move around, with the quickness to run crisp routes and easily create space if linebackers try to cover him and enough size to make cornerbacks have to go through him for the ball. Joe Flacco can use a weapon like Funchess, as could Gary Kubiak, assuming he passes on any other overtures."
Personally, I don't think Funchess is that good. Sure, he's got size and sometimes we can be enamored by measurables in a draftee. But he underperformed as a college receiver and seldom dominated games for the Wolverines. He finished his junior season with 733 receiving yards and four touchdowns. However, there are three ways to look at this, with two slanting more positively for Funchess.
1) Funchess is an underachiever that did seem to check out of the season when things went south for Michigan. As a result, he's not someone you'd want on an NFL roster, making a first-round pick a reach for him.
2) Funchess dealt with injuries and was working with Devin Gardner at quarterback. The offensive line was also horrible for the past two years. As a result, it's only human to lose focus and it can't truly be Funchess' fault.
3) Brady Hoke was his coach. See Fitzgerald Toussaint and how much better he looked in limited time this year compared to his last two seasons under the joke that is Hoke.
SB Nation college writer Luke Zimmermann, who founded the Ohio State blog Land-Grant Holy Land, said Funchess does have potential to make it in the next level. It's just a matter of being healthy and not losing sight of what his team is trying to accomplish.
"Funchess was never really a tight end. Even when he was listed at one, he played out at the slot; blocking isn't really his strength.
"He definitely appeared to have focus issues (that not exactly coincidentally coincided with Michigan's season going down the toilet). However, he also was battling through some injuries then too. It's tough to say what the breakdown/split was there.
"If you watch the Ohio State tape though, against the same defense that limited Amari Cooper, Funchess got his. The size and attributes are there. If the focus/health is too, he's an NFL player with that kind of ability. Of course, Michigan wide receivers in the NFL don't exactly have the best track record.
"I'm far from Dan Kadar, but I agree he's a reach in the first. He has that talent level but I'd personally rather have Jaelen Strong at the same juncture if he's available."
The Ravens will continue to go with the best player available approach this draft. Though they could use a big wide receiver that Kubiak — assuming he doesn't have a change of heart — prefers, Funchess as a first-round pick seems way too risky that early.