Top Receivers in NFL Draft: Donovan Peoples-Jones

Bill Huber

Michigan’s Donovan Peoples-Jones checks in at No. 13 in our ranking of the top receivers in the NFL Draft.

More than a few athletes have retained their eligibility by taking such grueling academic courses as basket weaving, shoe tying or connecting dots.

Not Michigan’s Donovan Peoples-Jones. He went to Michigan to be an orthopedic surgeon.

“My dad, he’s an orthopedic surgeon, so just growing up, learning about the body, it interested me,” Peoples-Jones said at the Scouting Combine.

One day when he was 9, he went to work with his father, Dr. Eddie Jones. On the way, he paged through “Anatomy: A Regional Atlas of the Human Body,” a book frequently given to medical students. Then, he watched his dad perform ankle surgery.

“He was very curious, very observant, asked all the appropriate questions,” Jones told the Detroit Free-Press. “He was happy to see the structures that he learned about.”

Peoples-Jones elected to bypass his senior year, which put him in the odd position of being able to focus on football rather than juggling football with a demanding course load.

“It’s a little bit different not having to do something with school,” he said. “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.”

In three seasons, Peoples-Jones caught 103 passes for 1,327 yards and 14 touchdowns. As a sophomore, he set career highs with 47 receptions for 612 yards and eight touchdowns. In his final season, he caught 33 passes for 443 yards and six touchdowns. Peoples-Jones was the full-time punt returner all three seasons with an 8.3-yard average and two touchdowns.

What we like

Peoples-Jones measures 6-foot-1 5/8 and 212 pounds, but he’s bigger than that with 33 1/2-inch arms and enormous 10 1/8-inch hands. His 40-yard dash of 4.48 seconds was impressive, though not half as impressive as his 44.5-inch vertical leap. Mostly, though, those traits didn’t show up on Saturdays. Still, he’s got a nice skill-set for his position coach to harness. His special-teams acumen could buy him some time. “Special teams is a big topic,” he said. “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 any way that I can.”

What we don’t like

Where’s the production? Sure, Shea Patterson wasn’t an X-factor at quarterback but Peoples-Jones didn’t do him any favors by dropping too many passes (9.5 percent). He caught 77 percent of catchable passes, according to Sports Info Solutions, which ranked 31st among our top 32 receiver prospects.

Bill Huber’s Top Receivers

No. 1: Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy

No. 2: Alabama’s Henry Ruggs

No. 3: Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb

No. 4: LSU’s Justin Jefferson

No. 5: Baylor’s Denzel Mims

No. 6: Clemson’s Tee Higgins

No. 7: Arizona State’s Brandon Aiyuk

No. 8: Colorado’s Laviska Shenault

No. 9: USC’s Michael Pittman

No. 10: Texas’ Devin Duvernay

No. 11: Notre Dame’s Chase Claypool

No. 12: TCU’s Jalen Reagor

No. 13: Michigan’s Donovan Peoples-Jones

No. 14: Kentucky’s Lynn Bowden

No. 15: Florida’s Van Jefferson

SI.com: The New Receiver U.

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