The Detroit Lions opted to make a move at the NFL trade deadline, sending a 2025 sixth-round pick to the Cleveland Brown for starting receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones. While many Lions fans are familiar with Peoples-Jones from his career at Michigan, we wanted to catch people up on his career since being drafted by the Browns in the sixth round of the 2020 NFL Draft.
His career has certainly had its ups and downs. After a bit of a slow start, Peoples-Jones had a breakout season in 2022, tallying 839 yards on 61 catches. But that progress has hit a snag this year, with him only hauling in eight catches for 97 yards through seven games.
So to figure out what the Lions have in Peoples-Jones, catch up on how he’s acclimating to the NFL, and parse through what the hell is going on this year, we had a brief exchange with Jared Mueller, the producer over at SB Nation Browns blog Dawgs By Nature.
Here’s what Jared had to say:
What are Peoples-Jones’ strengths? Weaknesses?
“Peoples-Jones is a deep threat with a long stride. He does a great job of tracking the ball over his head and hauling it in while getting hit. As a high-waisted player, DPJ struggles with change of direction and fighting for the ball while coming back to it.”
2022 was a breakout season for Jones. What led to his success that year? And why hasn’t it happened in 2023? Is it purely quarterback-related?
“DPJ has been a ‘breakout waiting to happen’ since Odell Beckham Jr. called him something similar a couple of years ago. Last year, Jacoby Brissett threw a beautiful deep ball and really focused on throwing passes only to receivers who were running their best routes. Amari Cooper and Peoples-Jones were the only wide receivers to have more than 24 receptions or 35 targets receptions last year, so the ball was also forced his way a little bit.
“This year, quarterback play has been terrible with the lack of touch on deep balls very evident.”
How versatile is Peoples-Jones? Can he play every WR position?
“For all his exciting size, speed combination, DPJ is an outside receiver who is probably going to catch most of his balls on go routes or deep-ins near the middle of the field. Detroit might unlock his punt return skills with a few screens as well.”
How are Browns fans reacting to the trade? What is your thought on the value?
“There are basically two sets of reactions right now: ‘Spent a sixth, got 3+ years of service, got a sixth back’ or ‘how could you trade your starting receiver who has played the most snaps of anyone for a lousy sixth-round pick.... not even in 2024?’
“Even if he leaves after free agency, Detroit got a really good deal because DPJ can take the top off the defense to open things up more underneath as well as return punts.”
The Lions value character a lot. What can you tell us about DPJ’s personality and culture fit?
“A great individual who is always smiling, upbeat, and ready to work really really hard.”