In the NFL Draft, talent overrules production.
Which is why it makes sense for Devin Funchess to bypass his final year of college eligibility and enter the 2015 NFL Draft, as he announced last week.
“I would like to thank my family, coaches and teammates for their support,” Funchess said in a released statement from U-M. “It’s always been a dream of mine to play in the NFL, and I am prepared to take the next step in my journey.
“I want to personally thank coach (Brady) Hoke and his staff. I’ve learned life and character lessons from them, and they have helped me become a better person and man.
“I love Michigan. From the former players to the fans, it’s a special place. The opportunity to play in the Big House in front of 100,000 strong each week, those are memories that will last with me forever.
“It’s been an honor to strap on the winged helmet for three years with my teammates, and I will always bleed Maize and Blue.”
When approached by the Detroit Free Press after the U-M Football Bust Monday, Funchess (Farmington Hills) declined to comment on his future.
Leaving now is no surprise, especially following the report last week that he was evaluating agents, including Jay-Z’s Roc Nation.
His body remains the prototype for the modern NFL receiver at 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds, with speed and athleticism.
Add the uncertainty at quarterback with Shane Morris, Wilton Speight and Alex Malzone competing for the job and with no idea who his head coach and offensive coordinator will be following the firing of Hoke and the assistant coaches, it was tough to see reasons for him to return.
(Funchess, who played at Harrison High School) also may see the risk of staying in school when some project him as a borderline first-round pick.
NFLDraftscout.com lists him as the No. 6 receiver in the 2015 class and the No. 32 prospect overall. On their two mock drafts, Funchess was projected 28th and 30th.
The possibility of injury hangs over all players, and it affected Funchess all season.
After scoring three touchdowns in the first half of the opener against Appalachian State, he had just one the rest of the season and was bothered by leg problems.
The first noteworthy injury came in the fourth quarter of the blowout loss to Notre Dame, the second game of the season.
He went down by the sideline and injured his leg, leaving the game. He re-entered but missed the next week against Miami (Ohio) and, though he played against Utah, realized he might not be at full strength again.
“It is always going to be pain for the rest of the season,” Funchess said that week. “You never go into a season and stay 100 percent in the season.
“Each week you get chopped down. I got chopped down and am probably going to get more chopped down the rest of the season.”
There were significant preseason expectations after he was handed the coveted No. 1 jersey, the first receiver to wear it since Braylon Edwards left in 2004.
But he never lived up to them.
For both himself and the Wolverines, it was a disappointing season based on the preseason All-Big Ten projections.
Funchess finished the season with 62 catches for 733 yards and four touchdowns, though only one of the touchdowns came in the final 11 games.
Funchess was named second-team All-Big Ten by the coaches but, after moving from tight end in the middle of the 2013 season, more was expected of him.
Plagued by dropped passes and the injuries, he will have a chance to erase both of those concerns with a likely invitation to the NFL combine.
(Funchess, a 2012 graduate of Harrison, started at tight end and defensive end on the 2010 state championship team and again in 2011 when the Hawks went 10-0 and were ranked No. 1 in the state before a playoff loss.)