Cleveland Browns WR Donovan Peoples-Jones could be a steal
With Terry McLaurin arguably being the steal of the draft in the 2019 draft, could there be another steal this year coming from a Big 10 receiver for the class of 2020? That receiver would be Donovan Peoples-Jones who was selected by the Cleveland Browns with their final pick in the draft, being selected 187th overall in the 6th round. However, Peoples-Jones has great upside and could go on to be one of the steals in the draft.
The 2020 draft class was absolutely loaded with receivers and as a result of this, Peoples-Jones slipped all the way to the 6th round. According to a report from NFL Network, Peoples-Jones is not even a top ten rookie receiver going into the season, and in a piece from Randy Gurzi, Peoples-Jones is going into the season being the fourth receiver on the depth chart.
Despite all of this going into training camp, it is more than possible for him to come out and take Rashard Higgins‘s spot as third on the depth chart. If he can make his way to this third spot, he will at least see time on the field and get a chance to prove himself.
At this time, nothing in the offense seems set in stone and the Cleveland Browns will build their offense mostly from the ground up around what they see success with on the field. In an interview from Andrew Gribble of the team’s official website with Browns wide receivers coach and pass game coordinator Chad O’Shea, it seems that the third receiver position is up for grabs, however, he is unsure of how often the Browns will go to a three-receiver look. He was quoted as saying:
"“When we are asked to put two of our guys on the field, we are going to do it, and when they call for three of us, we are going to go out there and do it. I think that those discussions as a coaching staff are ongoing, and we will continue to have those in the future.” — O’Shea via Gribble"
He also said that there will be plenty of occasions where there are three receivers on the field but it could not be the same person in the third spot every time.
If Donovan Peoples-Jones can prove himself early in the season it is likely we could see the Browns switch to much more usage of a three-receiver look and with superstars Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry filling the other two spots it is likely that the defense would often overlook Peoples-Jones and he could become a big-play machine.
Peoples-Jones was vastly overlooked in the draft as a result of his subpar college numbers compared to the talent that he has as a receiver. However, with him playing at the University of Michigan, quarterback play there was both very inconsistent and nowhere near the talent that he will be experiencing with Baker Mayfield being under center.
Along with this, at Michigan, their offense was much more run-oriented that left Peoples-Jones often going for long stints in games without being targeted. This resulted in him not having a single game in which he had more than 100 receiving yards while at Michigan. With a more reliable and talented quarterback around Peoples-Jones, and the Browns running an offense that receivers can thrive in, it is likely that he will flourish much more than he did in college and could even become one of the overlooked gems of the 2020 draft class that was loaded with receiving talent.
Lastly, another way that he can greatly help the Browns this season is in the return game. Throughout his college career, he was one of the best return men in the entire Big 10 conference. In 2018, he led the Big 10 in punt return yards, yards per punt return, and punt return touchdowns.
This could lead to Peoples-Jones putting the Browns in great field position or even putting points on the board on special teams on top of what he brings to the team as a receiver.