If you’re reading this article, it’s probably because your team has drafted or is considering drafting former Purdue receiver Charlie Jones. I appreciate you stopping by because I’ve seen Charlie Jones both as an opponent (at Iowa) and as Purdue’s star receiver. Here’s what you’re getting with Charlie.
Jones led the FBS with 110 receptions, had over 1,300 yards of receiving, and 12 receiving touchdowns as a senior. While those are well earned, impressive accomplishments, they’re significantly inflated by Jeff Brohm’s offense.
You’ll see a few draft evaluations say Jones has a hard time getting open. I don’t think that’s the case. Instead, Purdue, by design, threw it to Jones when he was both covered and uncovered. He makes a bunch of catches in traffic because that’s how Brohm’s offense worked at Purdue. It’s the same reason David Bell and Rondale Moore put up huge numbers in Purdue’s offense. Don’t get me wrong, both were great players for but they benefited from a myopic offense focused on getting them the ball to the exclusion of everyone else.
In reality, Jones both benefited and suffered from his crazy high usage. On the positive side of the equation, he put up stupid numbers and helped Purdue win the division. On the negative side, he was out of gas and banged up most of November. He was still pulling in catches but he wasn’t the same threat to break the big one like he was at the start of the season (until the I.U. game of course). He’s not a big dude, and you could tell the work load zapped his legs down the stretch.
Speaking of zapped legs, his heavy work load as a receiver destroyed his kick return ability. Throw in the fact that Purdue is terrible at blocking, and he’s a better kick and punt returner than his stats at Purdue indicate. He’s the same punt returner that lit up the Big10 at Iowa.
As I mentioned above, he’s not a big guy. At 5’11”, 175, NFL receiver isn’t the first, second, or third thing you think of when you see Jones.
He’s fast (ran a 4.43 at the combine) but so is every other receiver (It’s crazy to see how many guys run in the 4.4’s these days). I saw Jones win at Purdue with his ability to change gears smoothly and his innate ability to control his body in space.
Charlie is one of those natural athletes that is able to move into spaces other guys can’t. His moves are subtle but effective. He’s nowhere near the same route runner, but he reminds me of Seattle receiver Tyler Lockett. Lockett looks like one of the least threatening receivers in the NFL right up until he’s behind your safety and cruising into the end-zone. Jones has some of the same body control abilities that help Lockett thrive in the NFL at 5’10”, 180.
Jones will need to improve his route running (to be fair to Charlie, Iowa doesn’t run routes as far as I can tell) because corners can bully him at the line, and read him out of his breaks. That’s something he can work on with NFL coaching. He’ll also be in the slot (although like Lockett, he’s not strictly a slot receiver) more in the NFL which should keep him away from the bigger outside corners and let him work in space. He’s good at finding the soft spot in zone coverage.
Got That Dawg In Him?
Jones is a quiet dude for a receiver. Honestly, he could use a hype man because he put up one of the quietest 1,300+ yard seasons I’ve seen from a college wide receiver. He may be quiet, but he absolutely has that dawg in him. Purdue’s offense was original NES friendly. Most games it was “press A for Charlie Jones” or “press B for Payne Durham”. Teams knew Jones was the first, second, and third option, and he still found a way to put up big numbers, despite taking big hits on the regular.
After a few games this year, he looked rough on his way back to the locker room. Dude took abuse on a game to game basis, and despite dealing with a couple nagging soft tissue injuries, came out and performed. He’s not a diva receiver that sits out every time he gets an ouchy-booboo.
Jones is a good mid-round receiver. He’s not going to be the cornerstone of the franchise, but he’ll be a solid slot with the ability to play the field receiver in the right system. He doesn’t have the highest ceiling because of his size, but his return skills paired with his ability to get open and make tough catches gives him a solid floor. I’d be surprised if he doesn’t make a team and contribute as a kick returner immediately while honing his receiving skills.