Can Donovan Peoples-Jones Be the Third Receiver for Baker Mayfield and the Browns?
With the No. 187 pick in the NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns select wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones.
Peoples-Jones was the first receiver off the board in the sixth round and adds depth to a Browns' squad that needs more than just Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry out wide. Let's take a look at what the University of Michigan talent has to offer fantasy football owners and Baker Mayfield in his rookie season.
In high school, Peoples-Jones won Michigan's Gatorade Player of the Year award, All-American honors as a senior in football, and was also the all-city champion in the 100-meter dash. Three years later after Jim Harbaugh convinced him to go blue, Peoples-Jones was a two-time honoree by the Big Ten at wide receiver and punt returner. He scored 14 receiving touchdowns and returned two punts for scores in three seasons for the Wolverines as one of the most dynamic talents in the offense.
Peoples-Jones earned Big Ten Third Team honors as a receiver and punt returner in 2018, and honorable mentions at both in 2019 as his statistics took a step back. He's a talented target despite never recording a 100-yard receiving in 27 career games at Michigan. He impressed at the combine and shot up draft boards with his size, speed, and athleticism after running a 4.48 40-yard dash to go along with a 44.5 inch vertical at 6-foot-2 and 212-pounds.
Peoples-Jones was a consistent target at Michigan receiving at least 52 targets in three consecutive seasons. 2018 was his best overall season at Michigan as he recorded a 75.8% catch rate on 47 receptions of 62 targets. People-Jones finished second in receiving yards (612) while leading the team in receptions (47) and receiving touchdowns (8) in 2018, but fell to third on the team in receptions (34), receiving yards (438), and second in touchdowns (6) in 2019. His catch rate dipped to 63% in 2019 and his target share reached a career-low (13.2%).
What to Expect
Peoples-Jones won't be asked to do much in his first season, but he may find himself in the slot and in contention as the team's No. 3 receiver. He also adds value to the team as punt returner with three-straight seasons with at least 7.2 yards per return, scored two touchdowns, and an 8.3 ypr average over 89 total returns. Despite all the Beckham-trade talk, the Browns only drafted one receiver in this class.
Cleveland's commitment to the running game will be evident in 2020 with new head coach Kevin Stefanski, but Peoples-Jones could contribute right away in the passing game. Mayfield had a -0.14 supporting cast efficiency (16th) last season per Player Profiler, and while he won't play a significant role in 2020, he should play a play a small one in the offense's passing game.