2018 Season Countdown: #6 Donovan Peoples-Jones

2018 Season Countdown: #6 Donovan Peoples-Jones


August 23, 2018

Donovan Peoples-Jones

Name: Donovan Peoples-Jones
Height: 6’2″
Weight: 199 lbs.
High school: Detroit (MI) Cass Tech
Position: Wide receiver
Class: Sophomore
Jersey number: #9
Last year: I ranked Peoples-Jones #34 and said he would be a backup wide receiver (LINK). He started four games and made 22 catches for 277 yards (12.6 yards/catch). He also ran 4 times for 57 yards (14.2 yards/carry) and returned 40 punts for 320 yards (8.0 yards/return) and 1 touchdown.
TTB Rating: 92

Peoples-Jones was a superstar coming out of high school, but even so, I thought he would be a backup in 2017. Receiver is not an extremely position to adjust to when you jump up a level in competition. Fellow freshman Tarik Black seemed to make that adjustment quicker, but neither one was extremely productive for any stretch of time. In Peoples-Jones’s case, he ripped off a 79-yard punt return against Air Force for a touchdown. He had a 44-yard run against Cincinnati. He had a 48-yard catch against Wisconsin and a 37-yard catch against Air Force. And he had a 42-yard punt return against Ohio State. And that’s it for plays that went for 20+ yards: 2 catches, 1 run, and 2 punt returns. Of course, the quarterback and offensive line situations did not help, but a 5-star receiving notching five total explosive plays in a full season as a freshman is a tad bit disappointing.

On the plus side, there were good reasons for that lack of production, all of which have been mitigated. He was a freshman (he’s not anymore). He didn’t have a receivers coach (Jim McElwain was hired). He didn’t have a good quarterback (enter Shea Patterson) or a good offensive line (Ed Warinner was hired). The improvement of the offensive line has yet to be seen, but most people are expecting at least a slight uptick in performance. Black and Peoples-Jones should be the starters on the outside, and I expect bigger production from Peoples-Jones. It will be interesting to see which receiver really takes the reins as the go-to guy, because it’s not often that Michigan has had two such big, physical, and athletic receivers. I think Peoples-Jones is a little more valuable than Black because DPJ returns punts and could return kickoffs, while Black is less of a special teams-style contributor.

Prediction: Starting wide receiver; 40 catches for 600 yards and 6 touchdowns

23 comments

  1. Comments: 792
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    WindyCityBlue
    Aug 23, 2018 at 12:47 PM

    I wouldn’t be surprised at an even bigger uptick in production from DPJ. Imagine that Patterson connects with him on just some of the deep routes that he got open on last year, but that last year’s QBs missed. Then also consider that our offense will almost certainly be on the field more this year, running more plays, and that defenses will have to be worrying about Black this year, too. Then factor in on top of all that the normally expectable jump from 1st to second year.

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 3759
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Aug 23, 2018 at 2:04 PM

      Must be a sunny day in Chicago. I agree!

    • DonAZ
      Comments: 389
      Joined: 8/12/2015
      DonAZ
      Aug 23, 2018 at 2:54 PM

      I’m going to be interested to see the receptions and yardage for the receiving corp as a whole this year.

      If the OL is reasonably adept at providing pass protection, and Patterson is reasonably adept at finding the open guy and hitting him, then we should see some good numbers. With DPJ and Black wide, Gentry at TE/Flex, and Perry/Oliver in slot, *someone* is going to be open.

  2. Lanknows
    Comments: 3759
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Aug 23, 2018 at 2:00 PM

    Good post. Despite the big plays I don’t feel totally comfortable with DPJ at punt returner. Too many near mistakes.

    I put Black above DPJ but I don’t feel very strongly about that. I think it’s notable that Black was first man in before injury, but DPJ seems to have a higher ceiling. My logic is that Patterson will need a go-to target on 3rd down and I lean to Black for that (though it could be Gentry or Perry too).

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 3759
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Aug 23, 2018 at 2:01 PM

      My top 25.

      1. Patterson
      2. Gary
      3. Hudson – backup is walk-on
      4. Bush
      5. Winovich

      6. Bredeson
      7. Solomon
      8. Kinnel – Brown’s D puts so much on safeties
      9. McKeon – only real in-line TE
      10. Ruiz – unproven but critical

      11. Runyan – supposedly one of 3 OL locked in as starter
      12. Higdon
      13. Black
      14. Dwumfour
      15. Mone – plays critical snaps, other DTs are light, 4th is unproven

      16. Hill – excellent player but CB is so deep
      17. Evans – lack of proven 3rd RB moves him up
      18. Metellus
      19. Gentry – higher if he can legit block
      20. Peoples-Jones – need his speed

      21. Bushell-Beatty
      22. Onwenu
      23. Long
      24. Nordin
      25. Mason – too high for a FB but not much blocking depth at FB or TE

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 3759
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Aug 23, 2018 at 2:03 PM

        Omissions:
        Spanellis – OL 6th man was my last cut

        Gill/Ross – treated as interchangeable.

        Furbush – ‘starter’ but also a role player with a viable backup (Uche).

        Paye – DE rotation will rely on freshman if anyone goes down.

        Peters – I’m not convinced he’s a difference-maker relative to Milton or McCaffrey.

        Perry – May lead the team in yards/receptions but Martin or Schoenle would probably do fine too. There’s a lot of flexibility between slot WR, flex TE, and H-back/FB. Limits the value of any of them.

      • Comments: 792
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        WindyCityBlue
        Aug 23, 2018 at 4:24 PM

        I’d put Patterson in the top 3 spots. We don’t know anything for certain yet, but I don’t think it’s overstating things too much to say that he could make a 2-3 win difference over Peters.

      • Comments: 10
        Joined: 10/3/2015
        UM2013
        Aug 23, 2018 at 6:05 PM

        I had Solomon ranked 6th on my list as well and was a bit perplexed as to Magnus’s ranking there. I’m concerned with our DT depth this year – feels like we have 2, maybe 3 “proven” contributors and not much after that.

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 3759
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Aug 23, 2018 at 9:05 PM

          I’m more concerned about the starters than depth. If this is going to be a top 5 defense they’ll need Solomon and Dwumfour to play at All Conference levels.

          The rotational backups (Mone and Marshall) are solid at worst. Kemp and Jeter probably not far off. That’s more than enough ‘clay’ for Mattison to work with, even if someone is dinged.

          Mone might be needed more than we think to keep teams from running right at our LBs. Thinking specifically of MSU and Wisconsin.

          • Comments: 10
            Joined: 10/3/2015
            UM2013
            Aug 23, 2018 at 10:09 PM

            Fair point regarding Solomon and Dwumfour.

            Completely agree that Mone will play a larger role than people realize – neither Dwumfour nor Solomon seem to project as space-eating tackles, so I could see Mone rotating in and seeing nearly as much time, particularly on short downs and against the Wisconsins / MSUs of the world.

            • Lanknows
              Comments: 3759
              Joined: 8/11/2015
              Lanknows
              Aug 24, 2018 at 5:07 PM

              He may not be a factor in every game but he’s a very valuable role player. Our D is pretty small other than at SDE, so some teams will try to exploit that. Mone’s a heavy-fist counter-punch.

              I also see great value in going from a 335 lb dude who will run over you to a 285 lb dude who will shoot past you.

              Reminds me of when the Detroit Pistons subbed in Mehmet Okur for Ben Wallace. You better be prepared for everything.

  3. Comments: 563
    Joined: 9/13/2015
    michymich
    Aug 23, 2018 at 6:37 PM

    How is DPJ ahead of Higdon? You say well you have Evans to offset Higdon but you have Black, Gentry, McKeon and Perry to offset DPJ.

    Don’t see it. Please explain.

    • Thunder
      Comments: 2601
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Aug 23, 2018 at 8:22 PM

      Who’s your jet sweep guy without Peoples-Jones? McDoom is gone. Who’s your punt returner if Peoples-Jones is gone?

      You also have a starter-quality back if Higdon goes down (Evans). You don’t have a starter-quality receiver if Peoples-Jones goes down (Collins? Martin? Bell?). I mean, they might be fine, but we haven’t seen it.

      • Comments: 792
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        WindyCityBlue
        Aug 23, 2018 at 8:50 PM

        Schoenle can run jet sweeps, if it’s needed. Sure, having him in there may telegraph the play, but the same thing happened with McDoom. In any case, it’s not like we’re going to be running 3 or 4 a game, and our offense would probably be just fine if we hardly ran any.

        And frankly, neither Higdon or Evans is a #1 back. They’re both #2 backs, at least at the level we aspire to, but someone has to start.

        • Thunder
          Comments: 2601
          Joined: 7/13/2015
          Aug 23, 2018 at 9:13 PM

          I’m not interested in seeing Nate Schoenle run any jet sweeps at the University of Michigan.

          • Comments: 792
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            WindyCityBlue
            Aug 23, 2018 at 10:48 PM

            Assuming we desperately needed to run a jet sweep (which isn’t all that likely), what’s so terrible about Schoenle? He has speed, and not much else matters on that play. In any case, as noted, we’d be just fine if we didn’t run a single jet sweep all year.

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 3759
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Aug 23, 2018 at 9:15 PM

          RB is one position. Receiver and TE are multiple. If we’re comparing scenarios of calling on Schonle vs Evans to get the ball against OSU — well, one of them is a walk-on and the other has over 1500 yards and 11 TDs over his first 2 years.

          The bottomline is the backup RB is a proven player bordering on co-starter. The backup WRs are not close.

  4. Comments: 1154
    Joined: 8/13/2015
    Roanman
    Aug 24, 2018 at 7:40 AM

    The punt returner part of DPJ’s roll raises his value considerably, in my estimation. I’m glad that he’s dangerous with the ball in his hands, but what I’d really like to get out of him is that happy feeling I used to get with Peppers back there from knowing that the football was going to be caught and held.

  5. Comments: 563
    Joined: 9/13/2015
    michymich
    Aug 24, 2018 at 2:20 PM

    I am having trouble following some of the logic posted above. What exactly has DPJ actually produced and why can’t Collins or someone else replace his production. Why couldn’t Gentry take those catches. Ahhh, potential.

    Replace Higdon with Evans? Some of you are reaching. By that logic I can make the claim that Patterson isn’t that important because of all the qb’s behind him including a highly rated qb who produced more than DPJ last year.

    • Thunder
      Comments: 2601
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Aug 24, 2018 at 2:36 PM

      Nobody’s saying Collins can’t. What we’re (a.k.a. I’m) saying is that I don’t think he would/could.

      These are projections, predictions for how these players will play in the future. I think Higdon is more replaceable than Peoples-Jones, based on the analysis stated above. Either way, we’re talking about a very small separation in the rankings. It’s okay if you feel differently, but you asked for my logic, and I gave it to you. Whether you agree or disagree is up to you.

      • Comments: 563
        Joined: 9/13/2015
        michymich
        Aug 24, 2018 at 2:43 PM

        Fair enough. We agree to disagree. A side note. Last year I ripped you on your Higdon projection. Do you still have a low opinion on Higdon or are just an Evans guy.

        I see a clear difference between the backs. Higdon is a Big Ten rb who hits the hole hard. Evans is a hybrid guy in my mind. Do you still see Evans as the equal to Higdon?

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 3759
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Aug 24, 2018 at 5:01 PM

          Evans has 14 lbs on Higdon. FWIW

        • Thunder
          Comments: 2601
          Joined: 7/13/2015
          Aug 26, 2018 at 9:23 AM

          I don’t know what makes you think I’m an Evans guy. I didn’t give either one of them high TTB Ratings, and I haven’t been extremely impressed with either one in college. Higdon did make some nice plays last year (as did Evans, I guess), but there are some advanced stats out there suggesting Higdon is a below average back. They put up good stats because Michigan was pretty good at run blocking last year, but neither one is particularly elusive, powerful, etc. (I guess the powerful thing might change this year now that they’ve added weight under Ben Herbert.)

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