After becoming a wide receiver for his final year at the University of Michigan, Devin Funchess may be seeing a transition back to tight end in the NFL.
The biggest challenge for most rookies when they get to the NFL is adjusting to the speed of the game. But that task can become even more complicated when it includes learning an entirely new position.
It's not an uncommon occurrence. In the past, there have been plenty of players that have changed positions upon their arrival in the NFL, including current the Redskins' Niles Paul, who played wide receiver for Nebraska, but switched to tight end a few years ago.
In 2014, Paul had his best year for the Redskins, catching 39 passes for 507 yards and a touchdown. Former Michigan wide receiver Devin Funchess, who has played both tight end and wide receiver in college, could be asked to make a similar switch.
"I really went from wide receiver to tight end, back to wide receiver," Funchess said. "Coming out of high school, I played wide receiver and then they moved me to tight end.
"I consider myself a ball player."
When he stepped onto campus as a blue-chip prospect in 2012, Funchess saw action right away as a true freshman at tight end, garnering selections on the All-Big Ten Freshman Team and FWAA Freshman All-America Team.
After two years, 26 games, 64 receptions, 982 yards and 11 touchdowns, Funchess moved outside to wide receiver as a junior. In his new position, he switched his jersey to No. 1 to look the part, not just play it.
"I wanted just to get that receiver look on me," he said. "Everybody always had to claim the tight end, but that was last year. The past is the past, and then I made another mark on it with the future with No. 1."
In his final year for the Wolverines, the 6-5, 230-pound receiver hauled in 62 receptions for 733 yards and four touchdowns. While the team finished 5-7, Funchess said that the season wasn't difficult, and that the team just kept moving forward.
"Just adversity," he said. "We all go through adversity. You go through adversity as a reporter. You just keep going, so I keep going on the field."
At the combine, NFL.com's Bucky Brooks wrote that Funchess was one player that left the league with something to be desired.
"The former Michigan standout was viewed as one of the most athletic hybrid (WR/TE) prospects in the draft, but a disappointing 40 time (4.70) will lead scouts to question his ability to thrive on the perimeter," Brooks said. "His lack of supreme strength (17 reps of 225 pounds) makes it tough to envision him moving defenders off the ball as a tight end.
"Thus, the Wolverine playmaker could be a man without a position at the next level."
On ESPN, Funchess is rated as an above average wide receiver that "runs hard and fights for yards after catch." In addition, Mel Kiper Jr. has him rated as the third-best tight end in this year's class while Todd McShay has him ranked 22nd in his top 32.
As he continues through the draft process, Funchess knows his strengths and hopes to use those to his advantage.
"My size, my speed. I got sneaky speed," Funchess, who compares himself to Calvin Johnson and Brandon Marshall, said. "I get up under defenders real quick. It doesn't look like I'm moving fast, but I cover ground."