2022 was the best year so far in the young career of Cleveland Browns wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones. Finishing last year with 61 receptions for 839 yards and three touchdowns, Peoples-Jones was the Browns best receiver besides Amari Cooper. This impressive jump from Peoples-Jones was enough to have him considered for a Top-10 list, but not quite crack it.
Appearing as one of six players in the “Just Missed” category, Donovan Peoples-Jones was on the outside looking in of the Top-10 of Catch Rate Over Expected according to NFL Next Gen Stats alongside DK Metcalf, Noah Fant, Keenan Allen, Tyler Lockett, and Justin Jefferson.
There is something interesting to note about this metric, as the author of the article Nick Shook states:
“The players who qualify for this list and boast higher CROEs have consistently made difficult, unlikely catches more often than the rest.”
This factoid right here makes Peoples-Jones’ presence on this list make a bit more sense. Peoples-Jones is not great at creating separation and does not possess breakaway speed. Many of his catches have been tough and come with little to no separation between him and a defender. While it is very impressive, the long-term sustainability of that style is fairly questionable.
Another thing to consider is that Donovan Peoples-Jones did have 11 games with Jacoby Brissett throwing him the ball compared to just six with Deshaun Watson. Peoples-Jones had eight games with less than five targets last season, equally split between Brissett and Watson starts. Considering that is four of 11 versus four of six, that is quite the drastic difference in regards to quantity of targets. Also noteworthy is the catch percentage dropped from 64.6% with Brissett to 61.3% with Watson.
Donovan Peoples-Jones has shown the ability to make up for a couple areas in which he does not excel and that is why he is just outside this list. However, there is a reason Elijah Moore is now here and are still in the mix to sign DeAndre Hopkins. It really seems like that even though Peoples-Jones is great in the catch rate over expected department, that they are looking for a different type of receiver long term. That is unless a contract extension comes, but there has been no real mention of that possibility up to this point.