Comparing Donovan People-Jones and other top receivers to college stars

Donovan Peoples-Jones hails from the heart of Big Ten country but could have some SEC schools in his sights. Miller Safrit/ESPN)

The Class of 2017 doesn’t feature the depth at wide receiver as the 2016 class. The class does have a few standouts.

Here is a look at the top receiver and who their games compare to.

WR Donovan Peoples-Jones (6-foot-2, 190 pounds; No. 11 in ESPN Junior 300; uncommitted)

Compares to: John Burt, Texas

The size is very similar, but what is surprising about both of these players is their strength when attacking the football despite leaner frames at this stage. Generally, the taller, longer receiver don’t necessarily make a lot of explosive plays or plays after the catch. However, with Peoples-Jones and Burt, their average yards per reception is really strong. Neither of these guys are just run and catch players.

WR DeAngelo Gibbs (6-2, 195 pounds; No. 13 in ESPN Jr. 300; uncommitted)

Compares to: Deon Cain, Clemson

Both are talented but raw pass-catchers. Cain was a high school QB that played wide receiver sparingly, but had loads of upside. Gibbs might be a little further along, but he too hasn’t settled in yet at one position and could be an option on defense. On skill alone, Gibbs can make a similarly smooth transition as Cain did, especially if he ends up on offense. Both are big, strong and gifted in terms of ball skills.

WR D.D. Bowie (6-1, 185; No. 15 in ESPN Jr. 300; Committed to Ole Miss)

Compares to: KD Cannon, Baylor

Both are smooth and very effortless. Everything about their movements looks easy. There is very little, if any wasted motion both after the catch and when stretching the field, which both can do very well. Neither player will ever be physically imposing in terms of stature, but their speed and ability to create big plays and take the top off the defense is imposing in its own right. Whether in the slot or on the outside, these two create real mismatches in space.

WR Jeff Thomas (5-10, 170 pounds; No. 30 in ESPN Jr. 300; uncommitted)

Compares to: Kermit Whitfield, Florida State

Just like Whitfield, Thomas isn’t very big, but he sure is explosive. Thomas might make his biggest and earliest impact as a return man and sub-package target. Thomas has consistently shown the ability to play bigger than his size, probably even more so than Whitfield to this point. Sometimes you have a guy that makes so many things happen with the ball in his hands that you overlook a lack of ideal height/size. In spread offenses, that can be an asset.

WR James Robinson IV (6-3, 196; No. 36 in ESPN Jr. 300; uncommitted)

Compares to: Robert Foster, Alabama

Prior to his injury, Foster was becoming the go-to guy at Alabama for Jake Coker. Robinson brings the same size/speed ratio and, like Foster, is extremely agile with great body control and awareness. Their length and wing span allow for great ball adjustments.

TE Brock Wright (6-5, 245 pounds; No. 16 in ESPN Jr. 300; committed to Notre Dame)

Compares to: Nick Vannett, Ohio State

What makes Wright and Vannett so similar is their production in the run game. With today’s tight ends often being fairly one dimensional due to the spread offense, both of these two are not only employed as receivers, but also as in-line players at the point of attack and can hold up as well. They have very similar frames and at this level can overpower defenders, but at the next level technique and the weight room will determine their production. Vannett, like Wright at the high school level was regularly flexed out or even used on the outside in the red zone.

TE Colby Parkinson (6-6, 225 pounds; No. 155 in the ESPN Jr. 300; committed to Stanford)

Compares to: Tyler Petite, USC

These two are seam-stretchers. Parkinson, like Petite, comes out of his stance and immediately can strain the seam and put pressure on the defense between the numbers. They are nuanced option route-runners and have a really good feel for zone coverage and settling into open areas. Like Petite, who played a lot as a true freshman, Parkinson will have to continue to get stronger to help him develop faster as an in-line guy. Both are capable, but further along as pass-catchers.