The Detroit Lions didn’t make a big splash ahead of Tuesday’s trade deadline, but they did get a little wet. The Lions are trading their 2025 sixth-round draft pick to the Cleveland Browns in exchange for wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones, bringing the former Cass Tech Technician and Michigan Wolverine back home.
The most important principle of investing in the stock market is to buy low and sell high, and the same goes for the NFL. The Lions are buying low on a guy with elite speed and proven production. DPJ has grown notably each year in the NFL, most recently posting 839 yards in 2022, proving himself a very respectable WR2.
A quick glance at his 2023 stats are deceiving — Peoples-Jones hasn’t even crossed the triple digit threshold, with just 97 yards halfway through the season. However, if you’ve watched just about any Cleveland Browns football this year, first of all I’m sorry, and second of all you’ll understand why.
The Browns have flip-flopped between trotting out an injured Deshaun Watson and a conservative P.J. Walker for the majority of the season. Watson’s injury has been with his throwing shoulder, forcing him to “push” the ball rather than levering his arm in a rotational motion to get the zip that’s characteristic of an NFL quarterback.
That has left DPJ with very few opportunities to capitalize on his biggest asset: speed. On the flip side, P.J. Walker’s conservative nature has led the Browns to have their RB2 and tight end as two of their four leading receivers thus far in the year.
I can’t speak to what the Lions will do with DPJ in their offense, but here’s my vision. The Lions have lacked a deep threat besides Jamo, so when he’s on the field all eyes are on him to keep him in front of the defense. DPJ offers a parallel deep threat, allowing the Lions to deploy Jameson Williams in the middle of the field on things like post routes and deep in routes, or even the comeback routes Ben Johnson has been begging him for in recent weeks. That sets up Jamo to do more of what he did best at Alabama, which was running intermediate routes and capitalizing on his speed to maximize yards after the catch.
At worst, the Lions use a sixth-rounder on a proven WR2 and steps in to fill the void left by Marvin Jones Jr.’s departure for the rest of the season. At best, the Lions found a missing piece to take the top off the defense and maximize their 2022 first-round pick in Jameson Williams. That’s a win in my book regardless.
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