Three former Michigan Wolverines were taken in the 2015 NFL Draft, and one more will reportedly sign with a team as a free agent.
WR Devin Funchess — Carolina Panthers, Pick 9, Round 2 (41)
Many thought Devin Funchess underwhelmed during his three years at Michigan. A matchup nightmare—6-foot-4, 232 pounds—Funchess played his first two seasons at tight end before lining up at wide receiver in 2014.
“I’m a ball player,” Funchess said of the position change in February 2014. “I like doing what I’ve got to do to get a W on Saturdays.”
Funchess was consistently criticized for his lack of production without the ball in his hands; his blocking is going to need some serious work before he becomes a legitimate NFL receiver.
Fans’ frustration with Funchess came to an all-time high when he said Michigan didn’t need to follow up its loss to Rutgers (which took the Wolverines to 2-4) with a win against Penn State the next week.
“Wins and losses, that’s just a statistic,” Funchess said. “We’re out here just playing together as a brotherhood, playing together as a family.”
Many scouts think Funchess could have displayed first-round talent if Michigan would have had a better quarterback.
Perhaps the most astounding number of Funchess’ career: 1. That’s how many touchdown passes Funchess caught after the first half of the first game of the 2014 season.
|Devin Funchess Michigan Stats|
DE Frank Clark — Seattle Seahawks, Pick 31, Round 2 (63)
Frank Clark’s college numbers were astounding, especially in his final two seasons, but they could’ve been even more impressive had it not been for a domestic violence charge, which had him dismissed from the team by then-coach Brady Hoke. He appeared in 10 games during his final season, making nine starts.
Former NFL scout Daniel Jeremiah said of Clark before the draft: “There was a major character concern with Clark. Some teams took him completely off the board. He can rush the passer, but this is a player with a lot of issues off the football field.”
Seahawks General Manager John Schneider is more optimistic about his draft pick, telling reporters, “I would say there are always two sides to a story. You have to go through the whole thing. You can’t just go with one police report. You have to talk to everybody involved. Everybody.”
The Seattle Times columnist Larry Stone criticizes Schneider’s decision, saying he doesn’t “feel inclined” to believe in Clark.
Scouts agree Clark is one of the best pure pass-rushers coming out of this class; he’ll have a legitimate chance at making an impact on the field this season for the Seahawks.
|Frank Clark Michigan Stats|
LB Jake Ryan — Green Bay Packers, Pick 30, Round 4 (129)
The first thing that always popped out at spectators about Jake Ryan was his motor. Not the fastest guy, but the guy who could almost always make the play. The Packers were attracted to Ryan because of his versatility as a linebacker. That’s what we was known for at Michigan.
Ryan made the switch from outside to inside linebacker last season. He effectively became the quarterback of the defense, and any lack of closing speed was mostly masked.
NFL scout Mark Dulgerian calls Ryan an “assignment football player” who can take his skills inside or outside at the NFL level.
A true downhill, hard-nosed player, Ryan was easily one of the most like players of the Brady Hoke era.
The only thing to be concerned with for Ryan’s NFL future is a torn ACL he suffered in 2013, which sidelined him for most of the season.
|Jake Ryan Michigan Stats|
WR Devin Gardner — Undrafted Free Agent
Former Wolverines quarterback Devin Gardner went undrafted, but ESPN’s Adam Schefter is reporting that Gardner will sign with the New England Patriots to play wide receiver.
Former Michigan QB Devin Gardner, who's converting to WR, is signing with New England Patriots, per source. Following @Edelman11 QB-WR path.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 2, 2015
As Schefter points out, the Patriots have made the switch from quarterback to receiver work already once. Julian Edelman, now one of the Patriots’ best pass catchers, spent his college days playing quarterback at Kent State.
Fans dubbed Gardner as perhaps the most frustrating player to watch during his Michigan days. He struggled so often to lead the Wolverines’ offense, but he did so under grueling conditions. Between switching positions three times and playing in different offensive schemes under multiple coordinators, Gardner showed his resiliency.
If Gardner does sign with the Patriots, he could be catching passes from Michigan great Tom Brady.
|Devin Gardner Michigan Stats — QB|
|Devin Gardner Michigan Stats — WR|
Tyler Fenwick is the managing editor of The Big House Report. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.