With the exception of Baker Mayfield, perhaps no member of the Cleveland Browns is poised to see his stock soar more by the end of the season than wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones.
The Michigan product had an outstanding rookie campaign. Spectacular not because he shattered any records, but because he played really, really well for a fifth-round pic. He displayed big-play, downfield ability and also came up huge under pressure, making the game winning touchdown catch during the Browns win in Cincinnati.
Now, DPJ is in a battle against Rashard Higgins and KhaDarel Hodge in the bid to become the first receiver on the field when the Browns go with wide outs.
DPJ made 14 catches for 304 yards (making for an excellent 21.7 yards per catch average), so you can see why hype surrounds the former sixth-round pick out of Michigan. Peoples-Jones was only targeted 20 times. He’s not on the top of the depth chart, but you’d think his numbers would increase with a year of experience under his belt.
DPJ didn’t waste any time on the first day of training camp, reminding coaches he’s one to watch. Even without full contact, it was impressive.
"“[Donovan Peoples-Jones made the play of the day, soaring above and between defensive backs M.J. Stewart and Richard LeCount to make an acrobatic catch and holding on after his fall to the ground,” wrote TheLandonDemand’s Tony Grossi."
Aside from Beckham, DJP is the Browns only receiver on the squad who can stretch the field. Anthony Schwartz may get to that point, but the third-round pick has a long ways to go.
I’ll be interesting to see how everyone else behind Jarvis Landry and Beckham are utilized. Higgins still has that special connection with Mayfield, while the coaching staff favored Hodge enough to start him ahead of Higgins in 2020, because of his superb blocking ability.
The name of the game remains scoring and big plays, though, and that’s where DPJ trumps the teammates he’s competing with.
With DPJ reportedly not covering kicks any longer, he can focus solely on wide receiver and he seems ripe to make more of an impact in 2021.