Donovan Peoples-Jones 'didn’t play like a first-rounder' at Michigan, Kiper says

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

Former Michigan receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones dazzled at the NFL Combine with impressive numbers in the vertical and broad jump.

But ESPN NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper remains lukewarm in his evaluation, describing him as a prospect with "first-round talent" who “didn’t play like a first-rounder.”

Donovan Peoples-Jones

Peoples-Jones finished third on the team in receiving last season with 438 yards and six touchdowns. He had always been described by his teammates as a “freak” athlete and that was evidenced in his measurables at the NFL Combine.

He had the highest vertical jump among the receivers at 44.5 inches, which ties for third best at the combine since 2006. He also had the longest broad jump at 11 feet, 7 inches, tied for sixth best since 2006. Peoples-Jones ran a 4.48 40-yard dash.

“It surprised me a little bit,” Peoples-Jones said of his combine numbers while speaking to a small group of reporters at a recent "pro day" with quarterback Shea Patterson and tight end Sean McKeon near Toledo. “That was my best vertical yet, my best broad jump yet. It wasn’t my best 40, so I wasn’t super happy about that.”

Kiper said Wednesday on an ESPN conference call he wanted to see more from the 6-foot-2, 212-pound Peoples-Jones last season. The former Detroit Cass Tech standout decided to forego his final season at Michigan to prepare for the NFL Draft.

“I just kept waiting for dominance,” Kiper said. “I mean, a 44 and a half vertical, runs under 4.5, (he’s) 6-1 and a half, 212, he’s got that catch radius you want. He’s got big hands. He had to show maybe a little bit more of a want to. You can’t blame Shea Patterson. Shea Patterson was a pretty good college quarterback, not elite, but it wasn’t he didn’t have anybody throwing the ball.

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“And other receivers outproduced him. Look at the other guys. They put up bigger numbers, better average-per-catch, better bigger numbers. You can’t excuse it all away. I would have liked to have seen a little bit more assertiveness, a little more consistency and play to the level of those computer numbers, and I didn’t see that.”

Todd McShay, also an ESPN NFL Draft analyst, has been higher on Peoples-Jones since the season. He has ranked him more recently as high as the No. 11 receiver in a deep group. But Kiper has consistently had Peoples-Jones as a fourth-round pick.

“When you get into round four, round five, if he’s there -- and I don’t think he will be -- but if he got to the fourth, fifth round, you roll the dice that it will all come together for him,” Kiper said. “But any higher, you’re basing it on the talent.

“He’s got first-round talent, but he didn’t play like a first-rounder. You can say the under-achiever label, whatever you call it.”