May 24, 2024

ALLEN PARK — Donovan Peoples-Jones, hailed as one of Detroit’s finest high school football talents due to his imposing size, strength, and remarkable speed, has returned home after a recent trade from the Cleveland Browns, just before the trade deadline. The Detroit Lions eagerly acquired him, drawn to his enduring attributes—still big, still strong, and still as fast as the wind.

Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson expressed enthusiasm about the acquisition, highlighting Peoples-Jones’ dimensions at 6-2, 210 pounds, and his impressive sub-4.5 speed. Johnson emphasized the rarity of such a combination, praising Peoples-Jones as a fluid route runner with strong hands, a broad catch radius, and the versatility to play both outside and inside.

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones catches a deep pass from quarterback Deshaun Watson

Anticipating a positive impact on the struggling red-zone offense, Johnson expects Peoples-Jones to make significant contributions, possibly as soon as the upcoming game against the Los Angeles Chargers. The offensive coordinator praised Peoples-Jones’ ability to make plays in the red zone and in open field situations.

Although Peoples-Jones will officially debut at Ford Field in the next game against Chicago, his return to Detroit is particularly symbolic. Having played high school football at Cass Tech, just blocks away from the Lions’ home, he is familiar with the local landscape. In his senior year, he led Cass Tech to an undefeated season, winning the state championship and earning MVP honors.

Peoples-Jones’ journey continued at the University of Michigan, where he showcased his speed but faced challenges refining certain aspects of his position. Despite a successful college career with over 1,300 yards and 14 touchdowns, he fell to the sixth round in the 2021 draft.

His breakout came in the NFL with the Cleveland Browns last year, recording a career-high 61 catches for 839 yards and three touchdowns. However, his performance declined this year, prompting the Browns to trade him to Detroit for a sixth-round pick in the upcoming draft.

For the Lions, this trade was a reasonable investment to bolster their receiver depth. While Amon-Ra St. Brown and Josh Reynolds have been reliable, the departure of Marvin Jones heightened the need for additional help on the perimeter.

The Lions had hoped for rookie Jameson Williams to contribute, but he has faced challenges with route running and drops. Despite his potential, the team is eager to have Peoples-Jones, known for his high football IQ, join the team during the crucial stretch of the season.

In addition to his physical attributes, Johnson emphasized Peoples-Jones’ intelligence, highlighting the importance of a high football IQ in the receiver room. With the team in the midst of a title pursuit, they believe Peoples-Jones’ combination of skills and intelligence will complement the existing roster seamlessly.

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