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Could Devin Funchess fill Giants’ No. 3 wide receiver role?

Free agent was drafted by Dave Gettleman in Carolina

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Carolina Panthers v Philadelphia Eagles
Devin Funchess
Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Russell Shepard. Jonathan Stewart. Kaelin Clay. Scott Simonson. Each spent all or part of 2018 with the New York Giants, and all were familiar to GM Dave Gettleman as former Carolina Panthers.

There were a number of other players on the 2018 roster who had backgrounds with head coach Pat Shurmur or defensive coordinator James Bettcher. John Greco, Kareem Martin and Josh Mauro come quickly to mind.

With the Giants likely looking to upgrade their third wide receiver spot is Devin Funchess, a 2015 second-round pick by Gettleman in Carolina, a name to watch?

The basics

Age: 25 in May
Height: 6-foot-4 | Weight: 225
2018 stats: 44 receptions | 549 yards | 12.5 yards per catch | 4 TDs | 55.7 percent catch rate

Pro Football Focus key stats: Drops (6) | Yards after catch (1.8 per reception)

PFF says:

Devin Funchess’ 6-foot-4, 225-pound frame bodes well for his potential as an outside receiver in the NFL, but he’s failed to come close to it in his four years with the Carolina Panthers. He earned a career-high 74.7 overall grade as a rookie and topped 900 receiving yards in 2017, but drops combined with overall inconsistency have limited his year-to-year success.

The skinny

We know that the Giants could use a third wide receiver. Bennie Fowler, Cody Latimer, Russell Shepard and Corey Coleman — who shared that role in 2018 with limited success — are all free agents. Gettleman loves size, and we know Funchess has that. Gettleman and Shurmur have shown a proclivity for giving new opportunities to players they are familiar with, and since Gettleman drafted Funchess he knows him well.

There is one other thing. There is an expectation that Eli Manning will return in 2019, and Manning has always done well with bigger wide receivers who could make contested catches. Think Plaxico Burress and Hakeem Nicks — not Ramses Barden. Funchess isn’t Burress or Nicks, but he is a big-bodied possession receiver. That’s something the current Giants roster doesn’t really have.

The question is, how good is Funchess?

His best season was 2017, when he had 63 catches for 840 yards and eight touchdowns.

Funchess is definitely not Odell Beckham Jr. or Saquon Barkley — he’s not dynamic once he gets the ball in his hands. Player Profiler lists him with an average of a paltry 0.9 yards gained after the catch, 113th in the league.

Separation and consistency weren’t Funchess’s thing in 2018, either.

Funchess averaged just 1.14 yards of separation, 91st among receivers graded by Player Profiler. That website had him with 11 drops, most among wide receivers, and a drop rate of 13.9 percent, also worst in the league.

So, let’s just say Funchess didn’t make a good case for himself heading into free agency. Still, the Giants have a need. Gettleman and Funchess have a connection. The Giants don’t have a receiver with Funchess’s body type.

Could Funchess and the Giants end up being a match? At least, he probably wouldn’t be expensive.