Following an impressive Pro Day performance, Maryland running back Jake Funk is making a late surge up draft boards. He’s been a late bloomer his entire football career. Can the flurry of last-minute interest blossom into a late-round selection in the 2021 NFL Draft?
Jake Funk NFL Draft Player Profile
- Position: Running Back
- School: Maryland
- Current Year: Redshirt-Senior
- Height: 5’10”
- Weight: 205 pounds
Tony Pauline’s Jake Funk Scouting Report
Positives: Nice-sized ball carrier whose college career was marred by multiple knee injuries. Displays excellent vision, finds the hole, and has a short burst. Runs north and south, keeps his feet moving, and works runs. Solid receiver out of the backfield adjusting to the errant throw and extending to make the reception away from his frame. Possesses soft hands. Remains disciplined with blocking assignments.
Negatives: Has a long injury history that must be checked out. Not an overly creative ball carrier who makes defenders miss or even bounces around piles. Lacks the speed to beat defenders into the open field or turn the perimeter.
Analysis: Funk is a resilient, hard-charging running back with average play speed and a long injury history. His pass-catching skills give him the upper hand to make a roster if he passes medical exams.
Jake Funk Player Profile
The Maryland running back comes from a Funk family that thrived on sporting excellence. His father was a football player at Penn State, his brother was a lacrosse standout, his grandfather played basketball, and his mother is in the Clarion Athletics Hall of Fame for her prowess in the pool as a swimming sensation.
Despite the family’s successes, Funk was a late developer. So much so, he was unranked by 247 Sports heading into his senior season at Damascus High School. Having played both safety and running back, Scout ranked him as the 100th safety prospect in the 2016 class. Early offers came from Old Dominion and academic institutes such as Navy and Harvard.
Funk remained uncommitted as his senior but would remain overlooked no longer. During the 2015 season, he rushed for 2,866 yards and a state record 57 touchdowns. Midway through the season, he received an in-state offer from Maryland, and the opportunity to stay close to home proved irresistible. He finished his senior season in style, helping Damascus to a 14-0 record and a Maryland Class 3A State Championship.
In the final act of his high school career, Funk rushed for 270 yards and a record 7 touchdowns in the state championship game. He was named the 2015 Gatorade Maryland Player of the Year and the co-winner of the 2016 Herman Boone High School Player of the Year.
Funk’s college football career at Maryland
Playing in 13 games as a freshman, Funk was an immediate contributor. He scored a touchdown in his debut against Howard while securing a receiving score later in the year against Purdue. However, his reputation as a late bloomer would continue into his college career, as his impact was felt more on special teams than in the ground game.
Despite rushing for 61 yards against Rutgers and finding the end zone four times, he only rushed for 145 total yards in 12 games. The Maryland running back continued to be a special teams force, earning Special Teams Player of the Year honors as a sophomore in 2017.
Having played 25 years in his first two seasons, Funk would have to overcome more than his fair share of adversity. Over the next two seasons, he played just six games, losing a significant chunk of time with two separate ACL tears.
As a result, his breakout season wouldn’t come until his senior season. The Maryland running back had just 6 carries for 35 yards in the season opener against Northwestern. Yet, he exploded in the second game, rushing for 221 yards and 1 touchdown against Minnesota. It opened the floodgates for a conference-leading 8.6 yards per carry on the year.
The phenomenal production ranked as the third-most yards per carry in program history. He averaged 129 yards per game, earning third-team All-Big Ten recognition after accumulating more yards in four games than his entire college career beforehand. After the season, he declared for the 2021 NFL Draft but remained under-the-radar until his Pro Day numbers forced evaluators to study his tape.
Jake Funk’s best fits in the 2021 NFL Draft
Funk is an intriguing prospect in the 2021 NFL Draft. There are major red flags due to his injury history — ACL tears in the same knee in consecutive seasons. Still, his testing performance, ability to run between the tackles, and pass-catching experience at Maryland could see teams take a chance on him in a relatively weak running back class.
Furthermore, his special-teams excellence may give him the edge over other running back prospects later on in the draft.
Some teams who will be looking to add a running back in the 2021 NFL Draft include the Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Jets, Atlanta Falcons, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
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Oliver Hodgkinson is a staff writer for Pro Football Network. You can follow him on Twitter at @ojhodgkinson.