Charlie Jones came into Indianapolis needing to prove to NFL G.M.’s that what they saw on the field in 2022 was real. After 3 years of primarily returning kicks, Jones burst onto the scene in 2022, playing with childhood friend Aidan O’Connell and torching Big10 defenses. He led the nation with 110 receptions after collecting a paltry 39 over his first 3 seasons in college football. G.M.’s want to know if he’s a 1 year wonder playing in a system that has yet to produce a productive NFL receiver, despite producing gaudy stats, or if he’s a legitimate NFL prospect that found the right home after 2 stops. His combine performance went a long way to quiet his critics.
Charlie Jones Combine Performance
Arm: 31 5/8
The Brohm regime wasn’t exactly known for putting out accurate information on guys. Whoever did the measurements either had a vision problem or enjoyed a little on-paper propaganda. Purdue listed Jones at 6’0”, 188. I was concerned he was going to come in at 5’10”, so 5’11” was good for Charlie. He’s on the short side, but not so short that he can’t function as a wide receiver.
His weight was interesting. I doubt Jones was ever 188 pounds. Based on how he looked this season, there is no way he found 13 pounds to drop unless he came into the combine like an MMA fighter/boxer/wrestler and wrung himself completely dry. That wouldn’t make much sense, because NFL G.M’s would rather have him closer to 190 instead of closer to 180, and he needed to perform well the next day. I’ll be interested to see what he weights at Purdue’s pro day.
His hand size and arm length further solidified his position in the NFL. He’s built like a slot receiver, and will primarily play in the slot at the next level. All-in-all, his measurements were fine other than coming in a little lighter than expected.
40 Yard Dash
40 Time: 4.43
10 Yard Split: 1.51
Jones had to run in the 4.4’s and did just that. His 10 yard split, maybe more important for a slot receiver, was also outstanding. The advantage Jones has over some of the other slot receivers is his ability to return kicks. These speed figures further back that up. He’s a legit punt return prospect in the NFL. Granted, you don’t get many punt or kick returns in the NFL these days, but on the off chance a punter doesn’t get enough air under the ball, Jones has the ability to make the catch and the speed to make something happen.
I’m not sure this speed numbers did anything to improve his draft slot, but it went a long way to shoring up his place in the draft, if that makes sense.
Charlie was upper mid-pack in the jumping events, and for someone his size, that’s not a bad thing. His vert was better than 20 other receivers at the combine. His broad jump was also mid-pack, again, not bad for a 5’11” slot receiver. He needed to prove he’s an elite athlete, and his speed and jumping numbers proved his an elite athlete. Mission accomplished.
I was surprised Jones attempted the bench, but full credit for the effort. At 175, he was the lightest receiver to show how many times he could rep 220. His 13 reps were tied for last in the receiver group, but the guy he tied with outweighed him by 24 pounds. Ronnie Bell of Michigan State was the 2nd lightest guy to attempt the lifting event, and he weighed in at 191 and put up 14 reps. Jones has plenty of strength to play in the slot.
Jones was probably a 4th or 5th round pick coming into the combine, and will probably be a 4th or 5th round pick coming out of the combine. Above everything else, he needed to show that his physical attributes matched his senior season production. Basically, he needed to run a 4.4 and do well in the other athletic testing events, and he achieved that.
Mission accomplished Jones. He went from a guy that wasn’t going to sniff the draft to a player that should be drafted in 1 season. Transferring from Iowa to Purdue changed the entire trajectory of his life. You love to see it.