A Surprise Standout
The Cleveland Browns have one of the most talented groups of wide receivers in football. From Odell Beckham to Jarvis Landry, Cleveland’s pass catchers should give them an edge in 2021. However, a different wideout is making waves during training camp as Donovan Peoples-Jones is quickly becoming a consistent big play threat for Baker Mayfield. On a seemingly daily basis, videos can be found from Browns reporters of Peoples-Jones making plays during training camp. While it is still yet to be seen if this will translate to game situations, the second year pro has looked to have put in the work during his first NFL offseason.
Shaky College Production
Donovan Peoples-Jones came into the University of Michigan a five star prospect out of Detroit. Despite this, Jim Harbaugh consistently had issues getting the talented wideout involved in the offense. While many blame Harbaugh and his play calling, Michigan’s quarterback situation was a revolving door for much of Peoples-Jones’ tenure. From John O’Korn to Shea Patterson, the Wolverines were unable to achieve high level play from their starting quarterbacks. In fact, Harbaugh utilized Peoples-Jones on special teams in the kick return game in order to try and maximize his abilities. This certainly effected Peoples-Jones’ draft stock, as the former high school phenom fell to the 6th round of the 2020 NFL Draft.
Sixth round rookies in the NFL rarely make a significant impact in their first season, but Peoples-Jones was an exception to this rule. Despite beginning the season on the inactive list, Peoples-Jones was thrown into the fire following the season ending injury to Odell Beckham Jr. In the very same game in which Beckham got hurt, Peoples-Jones caught a game winning touchdown pass with just seconds remaining on the clock to ensure a road victory in Cincinnati. Given the fact that Cleveland needed each and every win to earn a playoff birth, it is safe to assume that the Browns would have not made the playoffs if it was not for the efforts of their rookie wide receiver from Michigan.
Donovan Peoples-Jones has all the measurables to be a fantastic NFL wide receiver. His speed, size, and leaping ability are all comparable to that of a prototypical player at his position. If Peoples-Jones is able to refine certain aspects of his game such as route running, and timing with Baker Mayfield, the sky is certainly the limit for the former Michigan Wolverine.