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Charlie Jones Bengals

Charlie Jones Poised To Be Major Bengals Contributor by 2024

  • Justin Melo
  • May 10, 2023
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The Cincinnati Bengals spent a portion of the 2023 NFL Draft preparing for the future at the wide receiver position. Duke Tobin, Bengals director of player personnel, selected former Purdue wide receiver Charlie Jones with the No. 131 overall pick. Jones is primed to play a massive role for the Bengals in 2024.

The Bengals possess a clear top three at receiver. Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd form the league’s most fearsome trio at the pass-catching position. But the future is littered with unknowns. High-quality franchises address needs before they become needs. Cincinnati’s receiver room could look considerably different in 2024.

No. 3 receiver Boyd is entering a contract season. The 29-year-old Boyd will earn a base salary of $8.4 million while carrying a cap charge of $10.3 million, per Spotrac. The Bengals can ill-afford to re-sign Boyd given the looming extensions for Joe Burrow, Chase, and possibly Higgins. Jones is a future starting receiver in Cincinnati.

Higgins is another unknown that’s scheduled for a fate-deciding campaign. The Bengals didn’t possess a fifth-year option on Higgins, who is due for a massive raise in pay. Higgins can command upward of $25 million annually per season. Can Tobin and the Bengals afford to pay Burrow $50 million per year, Chase $30-plus million annually, and Higgins $25 million per campaign? Drafting Jones as insurance was a worthwhile exercise.

A former transfer from Iowa and Buffalo, Jones broke out of his shell for the Boilermakers in 2022. Jones recorded career-highs in receptions (110), receiving yards (1,1361), and touchdowns (12). Jones’ campaign was especially shocking because, between three years spent with the Hawkeyes and Bulls, Jones had combined for just 39 catches and 718 yards. He was largely limited to a special teams role before Purdue fully unlocked his potential.

Purdue utilized Jones appropriately. Jones was most effective on quick-developing passing plays such as in-breakers, slants, and crossing routes. Jones showcased a natural feel for understanding leverage. Jones is a savvy route-runner that finds soft spots in zone coverage. Jones’ foot quickness creates separation between himself and opposing cornerbacks.

Jones is an underrated athlete who put forth an impressive performance at the NFL Scouting Combine. Jones ran a 4.43 40-yard dash with a 1.151 10-yard split. Jones’ lower-body explosion was on display via a 70th-percentile 124-inch broad jump.

Jones possesses admirable play strength for a 5-foot-11, 175-pound receiver. Jones is a confident tracker of the football. Jones’ functional strength allowed him to play through contact. Bengals head coach Zac Taylor will appreciate his overall competitiveness.

Burrow is arguably the league’s best processor at the quarterback position. A precise assassin, Burrow’s ability to quickly locate available targets meshes well with Jones’ capacity to move defenders off their spot. Tobin identified Jones as an ideal fit for his offense.

Jones wasn’t the lone receiver drafted by Tobin. The Bengals also selected former Princeton receiver Andrei Iosivas in the sixth round. A highly-intriguing height-weight-speed prospect, Iosivas could develop into an elite deep threat. Doubling down at receiver indicates the Bengals know change is coming.

The Bengals have Super Bowl aspirations in 2023. It will be the final opportunity to capture a Lombardi for some of their aging offensive playmakers such as Boyd. Expect Jones to gradually grow into a larger role before becoming a starter in three-receiver sets in 2024.

Written By

Justin Melo