Donovan Peoples-Jones declares for the NFL Draft

Donovan Peoples-Jones declares for the NFL Draft


January 4, 2020
Donovan Peoples-Jones and Tarik Black: Plop, plop, fizzle, fizzle… (image via 247 Sports)

Rising senior wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones declared for the NFL Draft on Friday afternoon.

Peoples-Jones is listed at 6’2″ and 208 lbs. on the 2019 roster. He reportedly ran a 40 time in the 4.4s coming out of high school. He was a 5-star, the #1 wide receiver, and #12 overall in the 2017 class, ranking as Michigan’s sixth-highest ranked recruit in the modern recruiting era (LINK).

Hit the jump for more on Peoples-Jones.

I gave Peoples-Jones a TTB Rating of 89, citing the belief that Michigan would not develop him up to his considerable potential. You can look back in the comments for a nice, lengthy discussion of why that rating was given (LINK). Here are Peoples-Jones’s stats over his first three years:

2017: 22 catches, 277 yards, 0 TD
2018: 47 catches, 612 yards, 8 TD
2019: 34 catches, 438 yards, 6 TD
TOTAL: 103 catches, 1327 yards, 14 TD

Add in 87 rushing yards, 743 punt return yards, and 2 punt return touchdowns.

An 89 TTB Rating suggested that Peoples-Jones would be a very good starter in the Big Ten, a likely All-Big Ten player, and a likely NFL draftee. Now that we’ve seen his career develop, I would say even that rating was a little bit generous. He maxed out as a 3rd Team All-Big Ten player in 2018.

If we’re being honest, Peoples-Jones had a very forgettable 2019 season. He started off with an injury that caused him to miss a couple games, and perhaps that affected him for the rest of the year. He never seemed to regain that separation and this was the first year in which he did not return a punt for a touchdown. For his sake you hope an off-season of physical development helps him get back to 100% if he wasn’t already there.

Maybe it’s not his fault, but when you get the #1 receiver in the country, you expect more than 438 yards and 6 touchdowns in his final season.

Peoples-Jones hasn’t had great production – much like #1 defensive tackle Rashan Gary in the 2016 class – but should get drafted based on his superb athleticism. If he can post a 40 time in the 4.4 range with a 40-inch vertical and some decent shuttle times, he might be able to work himself into the second day of the draft.

Rising sophomore Cornelius Johnson would presumably be the biggest beneficiary, as he was the primary backup in 2019. Johnson caught 4 passes for 61 yards and 1 touchdown.

Peoples-Jones is the fourth player to leave with a year of eligibility remaining, joining redshirt junior tight end Sean McKeon, redshirt junior outside linebacker Joshua Uche, and junior center Cesar Ruiz.

25 comments

  1. Avatar
    Comments: 113
    Joined: 9/28/2015
    PapaBear
    Jan 04, 2020 at 8:12 PM

    Rumors are that Nico is staying. Thunder, thoughts on Cornelius Johnson. I read your write-up when he committed, but ….now?

    I had posted prior that the trio of Collins, DPJ, and Black was simply too many Alphas, too many scorers on the court that need the ball.

    UM should have a nice mix of Inside/outside threats next season.

    • Avatar
      Comments: 120
      Joined: 9/13/2015
      AC1997
      Jan 04, 2020 at 8:22 PM

      Interesting theory about the alphas. On the one hand, I do agree that diversity in the types of WR is always good and even in the NFL you rarely see two star outside WR on the same team.

      However….Alabama and Clemson seem to have figured out how to mesh all those stars together. I think Shea’s inconsistency the offensive approach at times, And the nuance’s of being a reliable WR all played a role in his modest career.

      • Thunder
        Comments: 3578
        Joined: 7/13/2015
        Jan 04, 2020 at 10:44 PM

        In my personal opinion – and I know this might not be very popular – it wasn’t a good situation with Michigan’s wide receivers this year. Collins is limited athletically. Yes, he averaged 20 yards a catch, but that’s mostly on 50/50 balls that he just makes because he’s 6’4″ and 222 lbs. He did have a big catch-and-run against Indiana, but for the most part, he’s a guy who catches the ball and gets tackled immediately. Bell is a good possession receiver; he’s a lot like Julian Edelman in that he’ll make some short catches, run after the catch a little bit, etc., but doesn’t have great top-end speed.

        Peoples-Jones WAS the guy who could really make this offense go. He’s 6’2″ with 4.4 speed and a 40″ vertical. But he didn’t have that extra juice this year. He was basically turned into a possession guy. I really don’t think he was fully healthy. And with the other two guys, Michigan was left with three possession guys.

        • Avatar
          Comments: 1814
          Joined: 1/19/2016
          je93
          Jan 05, 2020 at 2:51 AM

          Man, I couldn’t agree more

          I hope he heals up for the combine/ProDay, because I could easily see DPJ sliding down to the 5th round based on production

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 5876
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Jan 05, 2020 at 10:44 AM

          IMO there’s a lot of truth here. Michigan receivers did not meet the lofty preseason expectations.Some of that is on context (QB and transition) but some is just that they are all not quite elite. Still – Michigan had a really strong WR corps and that’s a big reason why they ended up playing like a top 10-20 offense by season end, after a ragged start. I think it was a very good group, that at least 10 other Big 10 teams would kill for, but far from elite.

          DPJ is an elite athlete who has not developed WR skills to match. He will probably go higher than any of us think he should because the NFL will see clay they can form. I wish him the best but view his Michigan career as disappointing relative to both my hopes and expectations.

          Bell I think can probably be an all-conference WR but needs help around him. I agree he doesn’t have top end speed and probably isn’t a great deep target. Where he stands out is in two areas. One is getting open – there’s a reason Shea constantly looked for him, perhaps to the detriment of the overall offense. Two is after the catch – that’s why he’s much more than a possession receiver IMO.

          Collins limitations I agree with. He uses his body well and has great hands. With his size that’s enough to contend for 1st team all conference next year, even if he doesn’t have elite speed to get open quite enough against top end defenses. He didn’t have great chemistry with Shea and still made big play after big play this year. I don’t think you can “just throw it up to him” and win, but I think he can be a star next year with Gattis and QB help.

          If Collins is back I believe the WR group will be better next year, even though they lost arguably more talent than they’ve lost in many many years in Black and DPJ.

        • DonAZ
          Comments: 511
          Joined: 8/12/2015
          DonAZ
          Jan 05, 2020 at 10:14 PM

          “Bell is a good possession receiver; he’s a lot like Julian Edelman”

          I’ll take it. Having an Edelman is worth something. It’s a bit like Jeremy Gallon … the dude seemed to get open all the time.

    • Thunder
      Comments: 3578
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Jan 04, 2020 at 10:46 PM

      I still feel pretty much the same about Johnson. He’s a good player but not a game-changing athlete. He should have a nice career at Michigan. I think he’ll end up with an approximately similar career to what Peoples-Jones ended up having.

      • Avatar
        Comments: 113
        Joined: 9/28/2015
        PapaBear
        Jan 05, 2020 at 10:45 AM

        So…we’ve moved somewhat from the big WR to a mix of big and small, yet guys who do have game changing speed.

        Roman Wilson does have game changing speed and could be a game changer.

        Sainristil, Jackson, and Henning are versatile, dynamic game changers?

        With said personnel, I think we will be in a better place with this offense than we have been with the Big 3.

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 5876
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Jan 05, 2020 at 11:05 AM

          Speed >> Size

  2. Lanknows
    Comments: 5876
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Jan 05, 2020 at 11:04 AM

    Gary, Ruiz, and DPJ all came in as highly ranked prospects and had successful 3-year careers at Michigan. None quite met the HOPES we might have had on them depending on your level of optimism in the face of factual data points.

    I would not evaluate them as equals however.
    DPJ capped out as 3rd team/HM all conference
    Ruiz capped out as a 2nd/3rd team all conference
    Gary was 1st/2nd team all conference in consecutive years

    In the team context, they were critical contributors to their units. But Ruiz and DPJ played on offenses that were good but not great. Gary played on elite defenses.

    Gary had by far the best career IMO. His final season was marred by injury and left many disappointed but that doesn’t take away from the overall body of work. I’ll always remember what a monster he was his game against OSU in 2017.

    Ruiz was also very good and finished his career on a high note. He stayed healthy, started a ton of games, and played a big role in shoring up the OL. Nobody was game-planning around him though.

    DPJ stood out in special teams but as a receiver he was unexceptional by Michigan standards. He got outplayed by players with far less physical gifts.

    We’ll see what happens in the draft but at this point their college careers look to correlate with the draft positions. Gary was a 1st round. Ruiz probably somewhere 2-5 and DPJ well, he’s a great athlete so we’ll see.

    • Thunder
      Comments: 3578
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Jan 05, 2020 at 6:37 PM

      Rashan Gary:
      T-#27 in the conference in sacks as a junior
      T-#14 in the conference in sacks as a sophomore
      T-#9 on his own TEAM in sacks as a freshman

      Donovan Peoples-Jones:
      T-#27 in the conference in receptions as a junior
      #13 in the conference in receptions as a sophomore
      #3 on his own TEAM in receptions as a freshman

      Cesar Ruiz:
      #2 C in the conference as a junior
      #3 C in the conference as a sophomore
      5-game starter as a freshman

      It would appear to me that they all had pretty similar careers when compared to their peers. If you put value in Pro Football Focus grades, Ruiz was the #1 pass blocking center in the country in 2019, so he might even be the best of the bunch.

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 5876
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Jan 06, 2020 at 11:27 AM

        I gave you data points that are consistent regardless of position. Here are data points relevant to the position Gary played for that stat you cherry-picked.

        Don Brown Anchors sack production by year
        2016 Wormley 6
        2017 Gary 6
        2018 Gary 3.5 (In 9 games)
        2019 Hutchinson 4.5
        stats per UofM

        Gary’s relative lack of sacks compared to high profile DEs are well documented. Useful to note the same holds for the guys before and after him at his position. Hutchinson is widely regarded as an excellent young player, justifiably IMO. Sophomore year to sophomore year – Gary out produced him even in sacks. Wormley is a quality NFL starter on an elite team. Gary outproduced him too. Wormley had 2.5 sacks his sophomore year and maxed out at 6.5 (his senior year).

        Disappointments all around? I think not. I think we are getting consistently excellent play from our anchors and they deserve every ounce of praise they are getting and more.

  3. Lanknows
    Comments: 5876
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Jan 05, 2020 at 11:23 AM

    Spending 4 years noting how much playing time Spanellis, Uche, McKeon got as freshman turned out to be a waste. Add them to the pile with Peters, Speight, and this latest batch of NFL entrants.

    It might still be vaguely relevant for Devin Gil though!

    • Thunder
      Comments: 3578
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Jan 05, 2020 at 11:32 AM

      …and Carlo Kemp and Michael Dwumfour.

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 5876
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Jan 05, 2020 at 3:42 PM

      Yes. We spent all year calling Kemp a senior, Dwumfour a red-shirt junior, Uche a redshirt junior, Gil a red-shirt junior and Ruiz a junior. Who is coming back in 2020? Who is in their last year? We didn’t know till they made a decision and announcement. May not know on Gil till this summer.

      It’s extra info that doesn’t tell you anything relevant. Like calling Dwayne Haskins a red-shirt sophomore when he’s in his final college season.

      Meanwhile Rivals is justifying worry on the OL because we might have a “first-year player” starting at OC. Whether it’s Carpenter – a sophomore or Vastardis – a 5th year – we won’t have a freshman starting at center. Both guys have been in the program, know the playbook, watch film with the coaches, workout with the team, and get reps in practice. But inexperience will be an issue for either since they’ll be a first-time starter.

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 5876
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Jan 05, 2020 at 4:01 PM

        Great to supplement their class with additional useful info. More useful than saying if a guy played fewer than 5 games as a freshman or not include:

        -star ranking as a recruit
        -career starts
        -early enrollee status
        -NFL draft potential
        -number of helmet stickers
        -favorite animal
        -astrology sign

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 5876
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Jan 05, 2020 at 4:05 PM

        Terrence Davis is another example. Came into the year as a ‘true’ senior and logged his 4th season of starting, but he’ll be back next year at another school after deciding to red-shirt.

        College careers don’t follow a straight line like they did in the 80s.

        • Thunder
          Comments: 3578
          Joined: 7/13/2015
          Jan 05, 2020 at 6:20 PM

          No…Davis only played in four games in 2018, which clearly left him the option to come back to play another year in 2020.

          • Lanknows
            Comments: 5876
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            Lanknows
            Jan 05, 2020 at 6:32 PM

            The true senior red-shirted his 4th year.

            He played 8 games in 2018 and 4 in 2019.

            https://umterps.com/sports/football/roster/terrance-davis/7880

            He would be a great transfer for Michigan to land but given his injury history the chances of him playing in a meaningless NYD bowl game in 2021 are probably very very low.

      • Thunder
        Comments: 3578
        Joined: 7/13/2015
        Jan 05, 2020 at 6:23 PM

        …and yet Kemp talked like it was his final year, implying that he did not have an injury that would allow him to get that 2016 season back.

        There is a difference. Uche was a redshirt junior and could come back in 2020. Onwenu was in his final season, period.

        You can keep complaining, but it’s not going to change.

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 5876
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Jan 05, 2020 at 6:39 PM

          I wouldn’t be so sure. Michigan football is already doing away with it and they aren’t alone.

          Sometimes things do change. The things a baseball announcer references today would be unintelligible to a time traveler from 1992. And people talk about time of possession and winning the rushing battle a lot less than they used to also. Flankers and Split Ends are almost never referenced anymore while EDGE and SLOT and H-back are quasi-positions nobody much recognized back then either. No one knew what PFF was 5 years ago and now it’s commonly referenced.

          Like the game themselves, the way we talk about them evolves.

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 5876
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Jan 05, 2020 at 6:41 PM

          Kemp was labeled correctly and (it looks like) he will be back.

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 5876
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Jan 05, 2020 at 6:42 PM

          It was Uche’s final season. Period.

          • Thunder
            Comments: 3578
            Joined: 7/13/2015
            Jan 05, 2020 at 6:48 PM

            I’m growing tired of comments like these. I will continue to refer to them the way that I currently do, because I find it to be useful. If you don’t, that’s fine. Just move along and skip the additional information that’s being provided.

          • Lanknows
            Comments: 5876
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            Lanknows
            Jan 06, 2020 at 11:08 AM

            Fair enough. I did/do not expect to convince you about this issue. I’m restating my opinion in light of new examples and emerging changes in the game.

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