Cleveland Browns: Donovan Peoples-Jones could be set for 2022 breakout

Browns receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones signals a first down after a catch during the first half Sunday, Dec. 12, 2021, in Cleveland.Browns 5
Browns receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones signals a first down after a catch during the first half Sunday, Dec. 12, 2021, in Cleveland.Browns 5 /

Donovan Peoples-Jones showed growth with more opportunities in his second season with the Cleveland Browns, and he could be in line for a breakout Year 3 in 2022. 

Thus far through his first two seasons with the Cleveland Browns, wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones showed flashes in 2020, and as the year wore on, he made some big plays in key wins. In his rookie campaign then, the snap count for him was not particularly high, even less early on, but after the injury to Odell Beckham Jr., he saw more chances.

On the year, he finished out with 14 catches, still not many, and saw 20 targets, leading to 304 yards. He did show big-play ability, though, and even with it helping that he had a 75-yard touchdown at the Tennessee Titans for his splits, he did still finish out with a 21.7-yards-per-reception average.

In his second year, Peoples-Jones showed continued growth, seemingly, too, and even before Beckham was no longer in the picture with Cleveland.

Peoples-Jones did miss time due to a groin injury that unfortunately happened in warmups before a win against the Denver Broncos in October, but in 14 appearances, he had 34 catches for 597 yards and three touchdowns.

He amassed a still robust 17.6 yards per reception, too; his catch rate did go down of course to 58.6 percent, which one would’ve expected, particularly for a guy that was developing in his second year and was initially a sixth-round selection.

His second season was encouraging, all things considered, anyhow. And even with Amari Cooper’s arrival via trade this offseason, a possible Jarvis Landry return/free agent signing, or a potential receiver draft selection such as John Metchie III, Skyy Moore, or Christian Watson, we could see a Peoples-Jones breakout.

Peoples-Jones could be set for a breakout Year 3 for the Cleveland Browns in 2022

There will obviously be others involved, such as Cooper, Anthony Schwartz perhaps and David Njoku/Harrison Bryant at tight ends, and there’s the backs.

But with Peoples-Jones as a deep threat and guy that showed he could make plays outside the numbers with Baker Mayfield at QB last season, one could foresee him establishing nice rapport with a different level of talent with Deshaun Watson. That’s in the event Watson is mostly Cleveland’s starting quarterback in 2022.

Peoples-Jones still has room to grow, and it’ll take some time for him, along with Cooper, to get the chemistry down with Watson in-season, assuredly.

However, with Peoples-Jones’ speed and pretty reliable hands (just a 5.2 percent rate in Year 2), and him coming up with some very timely catches throughout his first two years, it wouldn’t seem far-fetched to think he could be a regular deep threat for Watson.

Maybe here and there, the likes of Jacoby Brissett could hit him for some play-action deep shots in spot starts, too, to that point, with how Peoples-Jones has been able to make plays down the field when given chances.

Additionally, Peoples-Jones demonstrated some progression last year in regards to getting open on plays inside the numbers, and seemingly made quality plays on intermediate comeback routes. His snap count increased from 34 to 77 percent last season, in which he then had nine starts out of 14 appearances.

So, while we’ll have to see what plays out with Watson’s status for the upcoming campaign of course, and Cleveland could draft a wideout, such as again, Christian Watson, who DPD’s Jacob Roach has advocated for, DPJ could take it up a notch in 2022.

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With still feasibly a solid chunk of opportunities and one could foresee a notable targets-share in Year 3, with Watson in-tow, combined with Cleveland’s running game and the threat of Cooper, Peoples-Jones is a weapon to watch.