In four weeks, the new assemblage of Browns players and coaches are expected to return to Berea for their first team reps and on-field practices of 2020.
We've all been waiting for the start of training camp, which will also be the first time rookies hit the field and jostle for top spots on the depth chart. Some rookies will fight for a starting role in Week 1, while others could be stashed in backup roles and carry starting prospects for the future. We'll just be happy that football is back in Cleveland.
Over the next few weeks, we're breaking down each rookie from the Browns 2020 draft class — with the help of The Athletic's Dane Brugler — and diving into how they might fit into next season's plans.
Next up: WR Donovan Peoples-Jones
Name: Donovan Peoples-Jones
Draft selection: 6th round (187th overall)
The Browns have selected Donovan Peoples-Jones in the 2020 NFL Draft.
How does he play?: A former five-star recruit who Urban Meyer recently said was one of the best high school receivers he'd ever seen, Peoples-Jones never quite put up the big numbers many expected from him during three seasons at Michigan. He made a handful of big plays in the passing game and on punt returns, but he topped out at 47 catches for 612 yards and eight touchdowns as a sophomore. Still, Peoples-Jones showed plenty of reasons why he was an NFL talent, particularly in the red zone, and has all the athletic tools teams covet at the position.
Brugler's Breakdown: Brugler cites a myriad of reasons why Peoples-Jones struggled to produce on a consistent basis at the college level, some of which were out of his control. The Wolverines struggled mightily on offense throughout his three seasons with the program, and the inconsistent quarterback play was a big reason.
"I know Michigan fans were just waiting for him to take over games over his three years in Ann Arbor and he never really did," Brugler said. "These flashes, they show the talent is there and it really makes him that ideal fourth or fifth receiver on the roster. Not only does he provide depth where he can get on the field when needed, but the coaches can develop him and get the most out of him, cultivate that talent."
Even though he never had a 100-yard receiving game, Peoples-Jones was a consistent threat inside the red zone, where he used his size, length and athleticism to generate separation from defenders. Fourteen touchdowns over the final two seasons are certainly nothing to sneeze at.
The red zone is where Brugler believes Peoples-Jones can make his biggest impact as a rookie.
"You look at his ability to high-point, you look at the length, just the natural ability to go up and get the football," Brugler said. "His vertical is outstanding.
"Not only does he have the length, but he also shows the route awareness. His ability to keep a cornerback away from the sideline is a big part of what he does."
That vertical was 44.5 inches, to be exact, when Peoples-Jones was tested at the NFL Combine. Couple that with a 40-yard dash time of 4.48 seconds, arm length measurements of 33.5 inches and a hand measurement of 10 ⅛ inches, and it's hard not to get excited about Peoples-Jones' untapped potential.
"You just can't teach that ability he has," Brugler said. "That athleticism with that length is a big combination. It really gives him a chance to win whenever he's one-on-one down the field.
"All the talent is there for him to evolve and grow into a starter level player in the NFL."
How will he fit?: It's hard to find a better situation for a sixth-round wide receiver than this one. Peoples-Jones will be in the mix with a number of others vying for roles as third, fourth and fifth receivers behind Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry. He'll also have a big opportunity to contribute in the return game, an area at Michigan where he routinely showed off his speed and athleticism.