Donovan Peoples-Jones Is Extremely Underrated (2020 NFL Draft)
Donovan Peoples-Jones, Michigan
Weight: 212 pounds
40-yard dash: 4.48 seconds
Vertical Jump: 44.5 inches
Broad Jump: 139.0 inches
3-Cone Drill: N/A
There were a lot of receivers looking to make noise at the NFL Combine, but Peoples-Jones may have made the most noise. He jumped out of the gym, as his 44.5-inch vertical was the seventh-highest all-time at the NFL Combine, for any position. It was the third highest vertical ever for a wide receiver. Meanwhile, his 139-inch broad jump was the sixth-furthest all-time. He did all this while running a 4.48-second 40-yard dash at 6-foot-2 and 212 pounds.
Many didn’t consider Peoples-Jones a candidate to go on Day 2 of the NFL Draft, largely because of his lack of big-time production in college, though Michigan is not a place for wide receivers to succeed regularly. Despite tallying just 1,050 yards over the last two seasons, Peoples-Jones’ biggest highlight is that he scored 14 touchdowns in those 24 games. Let’s take a look to see if his skill-set would be better utilized in the NFL.
Here’s my detailed scouting report on Donovan Peoples-Jones (ratings out of five stars):
He played both on the perimeter and in the slot for Michigan but was primarily their slot receiver. Given his size and playstyle, you should expect that to continue at the next level, as it offers teams versatility. He can play the possession-style role if you’d like but can also be used in red zone packages as a contested catch receiver. He also returned punts for Michigan, which offers NFL teams some flexibility, even if they can’t get him on the field in the offense right away. His size is that of an alpha wide receiver, as you won’t see anyone complain about a receiver who’s 6-foot-2 and 212 pounds.
RATING: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 1/2
Route Running/Ability to Separate
He’s a better route-runner than most want to give him credit for, as he knows how so use false steps to manipulate cornerbacks and getting them to flip their hips. Doesn’t lose speed throughout his breaks, either. Runs a variety of routes despite playing in a lackluster offense. He doesn’t have the quick twitch that some do, but he has enough wiggle to get separation at most levels of the field. I’d say he’s almost a smarter route runner than he is a talented one, which may be a good thing. The lone question mark I have here is how he’d handle press coverage on the perimeter, though he’s likely best-suited for a big slot role right out of the gate.
RATING: ⭐⭐⭐ 1/2
Has very deceptive speed, as he’s not incredibly fast out of the hole, but he hits his second gear in a hurry and can blow by a defender. Continually watched him get loose on post routes, though his quarterback play didn’t allow his speed to be recognized very often. Summarized, his short area quickness is mediocre, though his ramped-up speed is well above average.
RATING: ⭐⭐⭐ 1/2
When a quarterback throws his way, all they have to do is put the ball in the right zip code. He appears to have stick-em on his hands when high-pointing a ball in the end zone. There were plenty of times on film where he bailed out his quarterback, whether it be on a ball that was overthrown, underthrown, or simply off-target. With how good his hands are, it should allow him to get on the field almost immediately.
RATING: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 1/2
He might be the best contested-catch receiver in this draft, as he has incredible body control, particularly when it comes to the red zone. Watched him make multiple catches in the red zone that 95 percent of NFL receivers don’t make.
After the Catch
He’s a slippery receiver to get your hands on after the catch, and he’s not willing to just fall to the ground when hands are put on him. He’s not the strongest receiver after the catch, but his will is there. As mentioned in his speed notes, he doesn’t have elite burst from a stop, but give him a second and he’ll hit the high gears quickly. If he plays the big slot role in the NFL, linebackers and safeties are going to have issues if they’re forced into coverage.
Projected Draft Spot
There’s a ton to like about Peoples-Jones, as he’s got great size, versatility, plays with passion, and can help make his quarterback look better. He boosted his stock at the Combine, and I believe he has a chance to go much earlier than the consensus does. He’s the type of receiver who might be off the board in the second-round and I wouldn’t fault a team for taking him there. If he were to land with the Packers, he’d be the ideal complement to Davante Adams. Another team to watch is the Ravens.
In case you haven’t caught on by now, I like Peoples-Jones a lot. He reminds me of JuJu Smith-Schuster as someone who can come into the NFL and produce immediately, though he’s best-suited as a No. 2 receiver right out of the gate with heavy slot duties. He has long speed once given a slight cushion, can win at every level of the field, has the frame to absorb hits, and plays big in the red zone. Peoples-Jones isn’t quite the route-runner that Smith-Schuster was coming into the league, but he does offer a bigger catch radius in the red zone.
Click here for our complete list of NFL Draft prospect profiles.