PRO 2020 Rookie Spotlight: Donovan Peoples-Jones, WR Michigan

Rookie Spotlight: Donovan Peoples-Jones
Height: 6’ 1 5/8” (official)
Weight: 212 lbs (official)
Hands: 10 1/8”
Arm: 33 1/2”
40 yard dash: 4.48 (official)
NFL Comparison: Chris Conley

– 99th percentile athlete in testing
– tracks ball well
– prototypical size/speed combo
– impressive body control
– sharp footwork
– big, sticky hands
– exceptional athlete
– excels at contested catches

– a complete bust as a college player
– can look simply lost at times
– terrible production
– trouble getting separation
– lacks functional explosiveness to match testing numbers
– poor RAC

2019 Team Market Share Numbers

15% receptions
13% receiving yards
24% receiving TDs

Scouting Notes: Peoples-Jones entered his college career as a track champion and 5-star recruit, but failed to live up to expectations at Michigan, never posting a 1,000 yard season or a 100 yard game in his career. Poor quarterback play played a major role in his lackluster production, but even DPJ’s market share was subpar much of the time, which again, could be the result of a QB that zeroed in on particular players, but a player of his constitution should make himself known. And, DPJ’s constitution is substantial. With an imposing stature, huge hands and a massive wingspan, he makes a fearful form. His vertical (44 ½”) and broad jump (11’ 7”) were the best at the Combine this year and weren’t far from setting records. His 4.48 forty was solid too. All these things should add up to a formidable player on the field, and in stints they do. DPJ can come down with some big plays when he gets free, and he has the range to bring in a lot of passes that his defenders can’t get to. His ability to adjust to the ball in the air and keep his feet in bounds on sideline passes only adds to his skillset. DPJ excels at the contested catch, but it would be great if so many of catches weren’t contested. He’s just not terribly efficient at creating separation. His run after the catch is also not befitting of someone with his speed and power. He only averaged 5.3 YAC last season and only broke 4 tackles. Maybe DPJ just needs a QB who can get him the ball efficiently, but his track record isn’t encouraging.

Fantasy Outlook: Just looking at what this guy did at the Combine and in his highlight reel, one would think he’s befitting of a second-round pick in the NFL draft. Maybe he is. You can’t coach physical attributes like his into a player, but you can improve a player’s route running and physicality. And if you put him in the slot, you can mitigate some of those separation issues he faces – A player of his ilk could be dangerous in that area. DPJ is a head scratcher, but we have see where he lands and how he develops before counting him as an NFL bust. His history has not been good in this department but people grow and change. His freakish athletic ability makes him worth a flyer in dynasty, but he may need a year or two to come into his own.

From the Michigan Athletic Department:

• Receptions: 6 – (2X) last against Notre Dame, 2018
• Yards: 90 – SMU, 2018
• Touchdowns: 3 – SMU, 2018
• Long: 79 – at Michigan State, 2018

• Attempts: 1 – (5X) last at Northwestern, 2018
• Yards: 44 – Cincinnati, 2017
• Touchdowns: None
• Long: 44 – Cincinnati, 2017

Punt Returns
• Returns: 5 – (2X) last vs. Minnesota, 2017
• Yards: 104 – Air Force, 2017
• Touchdowns: 1 – (2X) last vs. Nebraska, 2018
• Long: 79- Air Force, 2017

At Michigan
• Two-time All-Big Ten selection as a wide receiver (third team, coaches, 2018; honorable mention, media, 2018-19)
• Two-time All-Big Ten honoree as a punt returner (third team, coaches, 2018, and media, 2018-19; honorable mention, coaches, 2017, ’19 and media,2017)
• Academic All-Big Ten honoree (2018)
• Co-Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week (Sept. 24, 2018) after his performance against Nebraska
• Freshman All-American as a punt returner, according to the AFCA and 247 sports
• Three-year letterman (2017-18-19)
• Recipient of the team’s 2017 Rookie of the Year award
• Recipient of the 2018 Offensive Skill Player of the Year Award, as the first-ever award winner
• Appeared in 37 games as a Wolverine with 26 starts, totaling 2,155 all-purpose yards with 16 touchdowns (14 receiving)

Quotable from the Combine

(Toughest guy you faced in a game this year?)
I would say Jeff Okudah.

(What about him stood out?)
He’s big, really good feet.

(who is the best player going back to Michigan next year that we aren’t talking about right now?)
Going back to Michigan? I think Nico Collins.

(What about a guy that we aren’t talking about right now that we’ll be talking about a year from now?)
I think Vince Gray.

(What stands out about Vince Gray?)
He’s a long corner, very strong, good cover skills.

(What has this week been like so far?)
It’s been great. Meeting a lot of people, being around here around a lot of great people, around a lot of people who have been in the NFL, a lot of NFL experience, it’s been really good.

(How many teams have you interviewed with)
I’ve done interviews with a couple of teams.

(What are you looking forward to that’s to come)
Just continuing to meet with teams, continuing to showcase my abilities on and off the field.

(Where have you been training)
I’ve been a little bit north of Fort Lauderdale at Barwis

(What have you liked about that process so far, and if you had to pick one thing you have really been working on, what’s that been?)
Short-area quickness, getting those fast-twitch muscle fibers firing so that that can translate over to the field.

(Sean McKeon talked about Michigan guys who he thought might surprise people. Who do you think will surprise people this week)
I think everybody will really surprise everyone. We had a really good program. And I think we’re well-prepared for this.

(Why do you think Shea Patterson will be successful at the next level?)
He’s really smart, pays attention to detail, and he wants to win, which you need as a quarterback.

(The depth of receiver class is it raising the level of competition at the combine this year)
I think everything is a competition. Being around a good group of guys, everyone is competing with each other and it’s fun.

(Did you have a favorite route at Michigan?)
I really like slants.

(Where do you win as a receiver? The release? Top of the route? Catch point?)
I feel like I can win at the release and after I have the ball in my hands.

(Have you talked to any guys you know that are in the NFL now about this week?)
David Long has helped me out a lot. Devin Funchess.

(What advice did they give you?)
Just come here, be yourself, come here to do what you came here to do.

(Have you been working on anything specifically to get ready for this week, is there anything you’re really excited to show teams?)
Yeah, quickness. Quickness and speed. That linear speed I want to run really fast and do really well in short area quickness.

(Do you feel you were underutilized at Michigan or that your production didn’t match your physical gifts?)
I’m focused on the combine. I’m focused on being here and showcasing my best abilities here.

(What are your best abilities?)
Size, explosiveness and versatility I would say.

(How much do you like returning kicks?)
I love it. I love special teams.

(Being from Detroit, how much would it mean to you to go play for the Lions?)
That would mean everything. The Lions growing up there, going to Michigan, maybe if I went to Detroit, that would mean everything. I love the Lions, I love everything about the Lions.

(You have had a handful of different OCs while at Michigan, how do you think that it’s helped prepare you for the NFL?)
Every offensive coordinator, every receiver coach that I’ve had brought a lot of experience. So I was able to learn a little bit of something from everyone, which I think will help me a lot in the future.

(Have you met with the Chiefs?)
Yes, I’ve met with the Chiefs.

(Formal interview?)
It was informal.

(What stood out to you about that conversation?)
Just getting to know everyone. Getting to know them. Letting them talk to me, let them know a little bit about me and what I stand for and about my abilities.

(Tough to leave school early?)
It was a tough decision. I feel like I was ready.

(Where did you make your biggest strides as a junior?)
Just knowledge. Knowing what to do at the correct time. Credit to Josh Gattis and his preparation with us as receivers.

(What is the biggest thing you learned from Josh Gattis last season?)
Just about the little details. There’s so many little details that not everyone sees on TV, not everyone even knows. He had an answer for everything.

(Have you met with the Patriots?)
A little bit. Informally.

(What do you learn during a meeting like that?)
It’s just a chance to get to know the coaches, a chance for them to get to know me. Get to know the things that I like, things that I can extenuate to them.

(Who have you modeled you game after?)
I really like Michael Thomas.

(Did you play other sports in high school?)
I ran track.

(What did you run)
I ran the 100, the 4 x 100, the 4 x 200.

(Punt returning how much of a topic is that with teams)
It’s a big topic. Special teams is a big topic. Special teams is something that I played in every game at Michigan along with receiver. So I’m definitely open to special teams. I love returning punts, I love being there for my team in anyway that I can.

(So I read you wanted to be an orthopedic surgeon, what prompted that?)
My dad. He’s an orthopedic surgeon, so just growing up, learning about the body, it interested me.

(Did you take any pre-med classes at Michigan)
Yeah, I was taking some of my pre-med prerequisites at Michigan. So I didn’t finish all of them, but that’s still something I would look into in the future.

(Something to look into after football is done?)
Yes sir.

(What are you out to prove at the combine?)
That I’m fast, that I’m quick, that I have what it takes to be here.

(How have team meetings been?)
They’ve been good.

(Have they had any specific questions for you that caught you off guard)
Nothing like that. Just getting to know me. They don’t know much about me, so getting to know me is the big thing.

(What are you telling them about yourself?)
That I’m explosive, that I’m versatile, can play anywhere open field, special teams.

(Did they have you break down any tape or your own tape?)
No sir.

(Is there a favorite route that you have?)
I like slants.

I feel like I’m good on the release. I feel like I can get the ball in my hands quick and make a play, hopefully get a first down every time.

(When you have meetings with teams and you’re showing your personality, what’s the main thing you want them to know?)
That I’m as good on the field as off the field. Well-rounded, a well-rounded individual, personality, everything.

(How is Jon Runyan as a leader and a teammate?)
He was a good leader. He was a good leader. I really like Jon. Everything he did for the team was inspiring to the younger guys.

(Do you want to return at the next level?)
I do.

(What do you like about returning?)
It just seems like it’s something that I’m good at. I feel like I’m good with the ball in my hands. If it can help the team I’m willing to do it.

(Have you met with the Eagles?)
Informally, yes sir.

(How have you seen Cesar Ruiz improve?)
Just making the calls, pointing, pointing out the linebackers, making the checks, making it easier for the quarterback. Just being a leader on the offensive line.

(What made you decide to pursue the NFL and forgo your senior year?)
I feel that I’m ready. I feel that I’m ready. This has been my dream for a long time and I feel that I’m ready.

(How did you assess the landscape with how deep the receiver class is?)
I’m here to see my best assets and showcase my abilities. I’m not really worried about everything else.

(Where do you think you’ll shine in the combine?)
In the drills, in the measurements. Everything that I’m doing here I look to do well.

(What are you getting asked the most by teams?)
Speed I think is one thing.

(What were things you think you did well last year and what do you want to improve?)
I definitely want to improve upon play speed. I definitely want to improve upon making those contested catches. I have lists and notes of everything I want to improve on. That will be going on.

(What was the process like from going from worrying about school and football to just being able to train over these last couple of months?)
Well it’s a little bit different not having to do something with school. You still have to do things intellectually, which it’s not like you’re not doing anything. But it’s been fun. I’m loving everything about this process. I’m blessed to be here, and I’m really excited about my future.

(Do you find it difficult to basically be going to multiple job interviews over the course of a few hours, and how do you prepare for that?)
I really just be myself. I feel like I’m prepared for that. Going to Michigan it’s a great school. Great people around me there. I feel like I’m well prepared.

(When you told coach Harbaugh your decision what was his reaction did he try and sell you on staying at Michigan?)
He respected my decision. Me and coach Harbaugh have a great relationship. I really respect him and he really respects me.

(Biggest thing you want to accomplish at the combine?)
I want to run fast. I want to show that I’m explosive.

(What would fast be for you?)
4.4, 4.3

(Have you met with the Steelers?)

(How did Josh Gattis’ background as a receiver coach help you)
Josh Gattis was a great receiver coach. I really liked him. He taught me a lot about the details, the technique of being a receiver. He had an answer for everything, which was good for me.

(Was it challenging to come in to college as a 5-star guy, knowing the expectations that come with that?)
I really don’t think much about that. I really just tried to come in and be a great teammate, do what I can on the field for my team and represent the organization as best as I can.

(How deep the wide receiver class is, how does it feel to be a part of it and is there conversation among you guys?)
It’s a blessing to be here. I love being around everyone here. I’m blessed to be here, and I’m blessed to be able to showcase my abilities to the world.

(Michigan is tied for the second-most players at the combine. What does that say about the talent you have on this roster?)
I think we have a lot of talent. I think we have a lot of guys who are prepared, ready for this stage.

(What do you think Michigan is going to do going forward and who are guys you are excited to see?)
Excited to see Nico Collins, Vince Gray. Excited to see how those guys play, Josh Ross.

(When you were making the decision to declare or stay at school who were some of the people that you talked to during that process?)
Coaches, family, I prayed a lot about it.

(Did you weigh the fact that this is a deep wide receiver class into your decision?)
I feel like I’m ready. It had nothing to do with the class, it had nothing to do with anyone else in the class. I felt like I was ready personally. Happy to be here. Blessed to be here.

(What sets you apart?)
Explosive and I’m very versatile. I feel like I can play anywhere in the slot, outside, as a punt returner, kick returner.

(When did you know you were ready?)
I didn’t think about a decision until after our last game. So after that, just thinking, I felt that I was ready. This has been my dream ever since I was six years old. To be here, to be on this national stage, even to be at the combine is a blessing. I feel like I am ready for it.

(Any interest from Green Bay?)

(Did you talk to them?)
Informally, yes sir.

(When did that take place)
That would have been two days ago.

(Any formal interviews lined up?)
No sir.

(So everything’s been informal at this point?)
Yes sir.

(What other teams have you met with?)
Pretty much every team. Close to every team.

(Measurements and weight)
212, 6-1 1/2

(Looking forward to 40? What are you shooting for?)
Hopefully 4.4

(Anything jump out of informal interview with the Packers?)
It was really a chance for them to meet me, a chance for me to meet them. Get familiar with their faces, get familiar with their program, a chance to let them know about me.

(Sean McKeon was talking about you train for the 40, but this is the one time you’re going to do it. Is that kind of bizarre that you put in all this work to run this this week?)
I don’t think it’s bizarre. They want to see your speed. The 40-yard dash is a great measurement in football, so it’s going to be good.

(When you think about being a young guy going through the recruiting process and then being here, what do you think of the path?)
I’m blessed to be here. It’s been my dream for a long time. I’m really blessed to be here.

(Is it funny to think back to being a kid with this dream? Did you know it would work out? )
I didn’t. I don’t think you ever know. You never know the future. You can only pray for the best, and God has blessed me in tremendous ways.

(Do you think the current NCAA model is good? Or do you think players should be able to make outside income or be paid by the school?)
I’m not anyone that would be able to make that change. I don’t really have a comment on that. It would be great. But there’s a lot of things way beyond my control.

(Is this a topic among guys on the team?)
It’s really just out of our control.

(Did you talk to the Raiders?)
Raiders, informally, yes sir.

(What would it be like to play for that organization?)
It would be great. It would be great. All of these teams are great. I would be blessed to be here. I would be blessed to be drafted to any one of these teams.

(With Gruden the coach now and a new city would that make it cool?)
It’s cool. But I would be happy to play football. I would be more excited for football, getting together with the teammates, and showcasing the best of my abilities.

(Are you going to Vegas for the draft? What will you do for the draft?)
I’m not even sure yet.

(Would you want to go?)
That would be nice.

(Who is the toughest corner you went up against in college?)
I would say Jeff Okudah.

He’s big. He’s got really good feet for a big guy, strong, fast.

(You’re going to face guys like that in the NFL all the time, how do you win a matchup like that? What are your skills?)
I feel like I’m equally as fast, if not faster. Equally as quick, if not quicker. Just using those things to the best of my abilities and doing things at the right time.

(Wide receiver class this year?)
Very deep, very talented class. I’m blessed to be a part of this class. I’m blessed to be here and showcase my abilities.

(What are your abilities?)
Explosive, versatile.

(Some of the teams you have been in contact with? Is Green Bay one?)
I’ve talked to Green Bay informally, just getting to know everybody. Letting them have a chance to know me.

(Who has shown most interest in you so far?)
I couldn’t say?

(biggest thing you are out to prove at the combine?)
Explosiveness, speed, hands, quickness.

(What impressed you about the Raiders?)
Just getting to know them. Getting to know every guy individually has impressed me. No two people are the same. Getting to know everyone individually was the biggest thing for me.

(They have a rich tradition, what would it be like to be a part of that team?)
That would be great.

(In which ways?)
Because they do have a good tradition, a rich tradition. Moving to Las Vegas, that would be great to be a part of that.

(Talent of wide receivers here)
It’s a big class, blessed to be a part of it, blessed to be here, to showcase my abilities.

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