Cleveland Browns: 5 young players who must take a big leap forward in 2021
2. Donovan Peoples-Jones
For a team with one of the most expensive wide receiver corps in the NFL, a sixth-round pick wasn’t expected to contribute much, especially a player as raw as Donovan Peoples-Jones was coming out. A former five-star recruit, he didn’t produce much at Michigan relative to his ability, and did not develop in the technical aspects of the position, which is why he fell so far despite putting up some of the best explosion testing in Combine history.
Injuries forced Peoples-Jones into the lineup earlier than envisioned, and he surpassed essentially all expectations. He was targeted only 23 times, but averaged over 20 yards per catch, and made some huge grabs in key situations. His route tree must continue to expand. but there is a very real chance that he winds up as the second option at some point this season.
He is that talented, and will have what is really the first full, normal year of quality coaching in his entire football career, no disrespect to his high school and college coaches, but the results are obvious.
Peoples-Jones is part of the method to unlocking the true potential of Baker Mayfield and this entire Cleveland offense. Throwing the ball more, and further down the field, is a necessity, and DPJ was by far the team’s best vertical threat last season. He’ll have some help in 2021, and could be one of the league’s breakout stars.