Carolina Panthers: Is Devin Funchess already a bust?

After only two seasons in the league, should Devin Funchess already be considered a bust?

The one label every player wants to avoid when entering the NFL is ‘bust’, which describes a player who struggles to live up to expectations or what would be considered his potential. One player on the Carolina Panthers who is hoping to avoid that label is wide receiver Devin Funchess.

The question though, is it already too late?

In 2015, the Carolina Panthers appeared to have their number one wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin after he had a strong rookie season. However, they still were lacking offensive firepower and could use another weapon for Cam Newton.

This thought process was one of the reasons it made sense for the front office to trade up in the second round to select Michigan wide receiver Devin Funchess. The big pass catcher on paper appeared to be the perfect compliment to Benjamin and would give Newton another big pass catcher on the outside.

However, in two seasons Funchess hasn’t had the impact the front office would have hoped. In his rookie season, Funchess had 31 receptions, 473 receiving yards and five touchdowns. He saw his stat line drop from the modest rookie season to only 23 receptions, 371 receiving yards and four touchdownsin 2016.

Funchess has become an afterthought in most games. He has had a limited impact and only has one career 100+ receiving game. Meanwhile on the other end of the spectrum, Funchess has had less than 20 receiving yards in 15 of 32 career games.

While a player should be held accountable for his performance, it is also important for a coaching staff to put a young player in position to be successful. This is something that Ron Rivera recently said may not have have happened.

According to ESPN’s David Newton, the Panthers head coach said:

“We could’ve used him better,” Rivera said last week about third-year wide receiver Devin Funchess.

For a young player, this is something that is great to hear from your head coach. It appears they are willing to take some responsibility for the lack of production. It also sounds like they are not ready to give up on him.

But now it will be up to Funchess to validate that commitment with a big year in 2017. The problem is that opportunities may be harder to come by. The front office brought in a number of weapons in the passing game including Russell Shepard and Curtis Samuel.

While the first two seasons with the Panthers have been a disappointment for Devin Funchess, he still has a chance to avoid being a bust. However, this upcoming season will be the most important of his career. If he struggles again though, it would appear to be just a little too late to shake that dreaded label.