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July 25, 2014

Scout: Funchess is a first-round prospect

Michigan junior Devin Funchess is the Wolverines' top NFL Draft prospects, CBSSports.com's Dan Brugler wrote Friday, forecasting the 6-5, 230-pound receiver to go in the first round at some point.

"Funchess is a mismatch nightmare against linebackers and smaller defensive backs and with improved consistency, he has all the makings of a future first round pick, reminiscent of a younger Jermichael Finley at Texas," Brugler wrote in his breakdown of U-M prospects.

Funchess is Michigan's top returning receiver, making 64 grabs for 982 yards and 11 scores in two seasons. He has more touchdowns than All-American receivers Braylon Edwards (10) or David Terrell (nine) had after their first two seasons in a winged helmet.

A senior analyst for NFLDraftScout.com, Brugler also projects fifth-year senior linebacker Jake Ryan to go in the first two rounds and senior defensive end Frank Clark to be a sleeper pick.

"Ryan processes information very quickly to read, react and attack with aggressive, decisive movements and has the athleticism to chase down ball carriers and cover a large area," Brugler wrote.

"He has a high football I.Q. and it's no coincidence that he always seems to be around the ball, displaying the point of attack toughness to consistently finish. With a healthy and productive senior season, Ryan is viewed by scouts as a possible top-50 draft pick and a player who can line up at several linebacker spots in any scheme."

"Clark has good body thickness throughout with long arms and quick, active hands to engage blockers, but needs to load more ammo into his punch to generate movement at the point of attack. He goes hard off the snap with an energetic mentality, but doesn't always have a clear plan and needs to set up his moves better to fool blockers. Clark isn't the type of prospect who will receive much publicity, but he will prove to be a steal in the NFL if he ends up in the mid-round range."

The 6-3, 236-pound Ryan will take over at middle linebacker this season after spending his first three years at strongside linebacker, where he recorded 31.5 tackles for loss among 155 career stops. With another year like 2012 (16 TFL) he would move into the top five all time at Michigan in that category.

The 6-2, 277-pound Clark has notched 6.5 sacks among 21.5 tackles for loss, recording career highs in both categories last year with 4.5 QB takedowns and 12 TFL.

Brugler is not as high on U-M quarterback Devin Gardner, noting he could be looked at as something other than a QB if he doesn't clean up considerable issues in his mechanics and decision-making.

"While the production [in 2013] was encouraging, his tape isn't as positive with a number of streaky tendencies that need improved in 2014 for him to be considered a viable draft pick," Brugler writes. "Gardner has NFL arm strength and the ball appears to jump off his hand, but his upper and lower body mechanics are a mess and he often releases while off-balance, causing his ball placement to end up all over the place.

"He holds the ball too long and has struggled in the past with anticipating the rush and not recognizing his keys to find favorable match-ups downfield."

For the entire article, click here and you can follow Brugler on twitter @dpbrugler.

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