Charlie Jones: Oxymoron?
How can you be a "popular sleeper"? Can Charlie Jones be taken instead of an early WR? 4/12/2023
Here’s the thing about almost any NFL prospect who is probable to be drafted: He has an interesting story. You know what would be the most interesting story for an NFL player? “Man, this guy’s boring! There’s literally nothing interesting about him, he just happens to be one of the top 1-percent of the top 1-percent football players in the world."
How interesting that would be! Oh no, paradox!
For that reason, I don’t want to write a lot of pre-draft reports on prospects unless there’s a viable connection to the Seattle Seahawks. When it comes to early draft prospects like Bryce Young, Bijan Robinson, Jalen Carter, Devon Witherspoon, or even Myles Murphy, that’s easy to do. The Seahawks are going to draft one of the top players on the board and then they’re likely going to do it again before day one is finished.
On day two, yeah we can throw around some position ideas and maybe some prospects who fit a certain mold. On day three, it usually just stops making sense. Why should we spend too much time talking about future players for the Cardinals, Bucs, and Browns? I did it very rarely last draft season and then I made an exception for this guy Joshua Onujioga because his story stood out and he met with the Seahawks.
Good for us, Seattle signed Onujioga after he went undrafted and he’s still on the team.
It’s not going to happen that often that I am going to feel the need to take up your time with just any prospect who only has the same 1-in-32 chances of ending up on the Seahawks as he does any other team. He needs not only be interesting, he needs not only to have met with the Seahawks, but there needs to be an X-factor that leads me down a path to say, “Fine, let’s talk about this guy.” Because I could even look back at Creed Humphrey and say, “Well, he’s not on the Seahawks but don’t tell me you didn’t BEG to talk about this prospect regardless.”
You’ve begged for Charlie Jones. You will probably continue to talk about Jones even if he goes to another team, which is by far the most likely outcome. And lucky for us, he was recently in Seattle to meet with the Seahawks.
Since you beg and I give, allow me to beg for the following one sentence: Please subscribe to Seaside Joe, consider upgrading to premium Regular Joes to support a daily Seahawks newsletter, and get a gift subscription for a Seahawks fan!
How can Charlie Jones be a sleeper if you think he’s going to be great?
Now I know many of you are thinking, “Who even is Charlie Jones? Why do I want the Seahawks to draft Charlie Jones when I’ve never heard of him? Why is Seaside Joe making accusations about my Charlie Jones assumptions?” and that’s fair. Under those circumstances, I understand why Charlie Jones is considered a sleeper: Most NFL fans honestly haven’t even heard of Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Jordan Addison, and Zay Flowers, three potential first round picks, so I get that Jones is on few radars among fans.
And maybe if I say “Charlie Jones” enough times the name won’t sink back into consciousness as just another anonymous John Doe given how basic it is as a first-surname combination.
Oftentimes for people like me and Seaside Joe readers like you, it’s easy to forget that most NFL fans have not yet even heard of Jalen Carter! The time to process new NFL information is usually during and after the draft, if not waiting all the way until Week 1 or Week 18. This is not to disparage anyone for not paying attention—I barely know most of those guys!—only to say that Charlie Jones is a sleeper even to draft fans, so he’s definitely not on the radar for Seahawks fans who are waiting until September.
But Charlie Jones does have the resume not only reach the NFL, he could have an impact beyond the normal expectation for a receiver who isn’t even ranked among the top-15 at his position for most people. At NFLMockDraftDatabase, Charlie Jones is the consensus 21st-ranked receiver. So why is that an “Oxymoron”? Because in my opinion, if Charlie Jones is percieved by the league as a potential starting receiver in the NFL then I don’t think he’s going to go on day three and I don’t think he’s a “sleeper”. He would just be a sleeper to us now, but the league will know or not if he has those unique traits that will push him higher up their boards.
There are some exceptions to that rule and that could be why Charlie Jones goes later then he should go and I’ll get to those later in the article. Let’s start with the basics.
Charlie Jones, Purdue — Nickname: “Charlie Jones”
5’11, 175 lbs, 31.5” arms, 9” hands, 4.43 40-yard dash, 1.51 10-yard split, 36.5” vertical, 10’4 broad jump; pro day: 6.84 3-cone, 4.15 short shuttle: 40-video
Seahawks Comp: Paul Richardson
When you build out a player’s combine and/or pro day measurements and look for past prospects, you’re creating a starting point and nothing more. “Well, technically this guy had that body and could do X, Y, Z” but with Charlie Jones, there is a wide breadth of results ranging from Jahan Dotson (5’11, 178, 4.43, 36” vert, 7.28 3-cone) as a first round pick, to Richardson (6’, 175, 4.4, 38” vert, 7.09), Dennis Northcutt, Wan’Dale Robinson, and Titus Young as second round picks.
There would also be a long list of players who went on day three or undrafted. The body is just a starting point and whether Charlie Jones can make more out of a 5’11, 175 frame with good speed is a matter of route running, being able to manipulate defensive backs to create space, catching ability, effort, run blocking, and so much more.
Just look at Titus Young. He was the 44th overall pick in 2011, he played with Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson, but he dealt with injuries and had a very short career. Paul Richardson is an interesting comparison, but I don’t suspect that Seattle would use Charlie Jones the same way they attempted to utilize Preach.
I can’t stop writing his full name.
The 10-yard split is not ridiculous, but it is GREAT and it is kind of ridiculous given that I don’t think anyone expected it. Dotson only ran a 1.55. Nobody comes that close to 1.50 and goes unnoticed; Bo Melton ran a 1.5 last year and was probably the only guy who came close to going undrafted. Garrett Wilson ran a 1.49, Chris Olave ran a 1.5, Wan’Dale ran a 1.59 and was promoted as this incredible athlete.
When people project Charlie Jones as a day 3 pick, I don’t see anything in his measurements that suggests he is going to be restricted from day 2. Last year had two players (Dotson, Robinson) and Charlie Jones posted better numbers than Jordan Addison and Josh Downs even though he’s slightly heavier. He’s the same weight at Jalin Hyatt, considered to be one of the fastest players in the draft, and he only ran four-tenths slower. I don’t know if Charlie Jones plays as fast as his 4.43 and 1.51, I just can’t fathom that his testing holds him back.
Again, it’s a matter of how he uses his weight and speed. He uses it better than most prospects.
Charlie Jones creates space
I only just came across this guy’s YouTube channel—Devy to Dynasty Football—but he fucking rules. Seems like very honest and blunt reviews of prospects, it’s just a shame he only focuses on fantasy football players.
In this footage, Charlie Jones is playing in his first ever game for Purdue after transferring last year and he’s lining up against Joey Porter, Jr., an expected top-20 pick in the upcoming draft. He ended up catching 12 passes for 153 yards and a touchdown with three kick returns for 43 yards. In his debut. It feels like a callback to Ken Walker’s debut for Michigan State in 2021, another guy who was being held back by being in the wrong system for his talents.
Now he didn’t make all 12 catches against Porter, but I do think he generally won the day in his matchups against Porter. Facing one of the top corners in the country, he showed no hesitation or fear and was anything but shut down.
Charlie Jones played 88% of his snaps in the Z position as an outside receiver but will almost certainly play slot in the NFL, where there is definite room for an addition in Seattle’s offense. In this game, Charlie Jones showed a great ability to manipulate defenders, to create space, strong hands, and elite awareness. It’s really impressive for anyone, but especially for making his debut and going against the Penn State defense with a mediocre QB (Aidan O’Connell, who is also a childhood friend of Charlie Jones) throwing him the ball.
Charlie Jones finished the season with an NCAA-best 110 catches for 1,361 yards (second in the nation, Purdue single-season record) and 12 touchdowns. He was consistently dominant, putting up at least 100 yards in eight of 13 contests, at least 10 catches in six games, and only one game in which he failed to get at least 40 yards or four catches. Here’s what Steve Smith had to say about him:
“Mr. Consistent. The way his ability to setup the defender. Everything about Charlie Jones that I’ve seen, he checks the box. I love his focus, too. He’s catching the ball, tipping it. Keeping two feet in. Going across the middle and catching the ball. Has the ability to surprise some people in the end.”
Here’s the consistent, focused catch that Smith is talking about^^^
Charlie Jones has often been compared to Cooper Kupp, which is probably unfair and inaccurate for a number of reasons, but then he also embraces that and says that he’s long studied Kupp’s game and even Kupp’s personal YouTube channel to show how to be a great route runner and how to create separation.
Kupp was the greatest receiver in the HISTORY of FCS, at least dating back to Jerry Rice, and he’s just not built like Charlie Jones. But there is evidence that shows that Charlie Jones is indeed learning from Kupp.
He is an immediate option on special teams
Like Kupp has to do at times with the Rams, Charlie Jones could return punts and kicks for NFL teams and that does give him at least maybe a floor as a team’s WR5. In two years at Iowa and one at Purdue, he had 77 punt returns for 622 yards and a touchdown. In 2021, he had 25 kickoff returns for 635 yards and a touchdown.
It’s interesting to consider how Charlie Jones could have done as an undrafted free agent in 2022 because he still would have had the same size, speed, and returner resume, even if he had yet to prove much as a receiver at that point. Instead, he entered the transfer portal and joined lifelong friend Aidan O’Connell as a replacement for David Bell, a third round pick of the Browns in 2022 and Bell also put up big numbers in that offense albeit as a bigger, slower receiver.
If Bell could go 99th overall, could Charlie Jones go just as high or higher? Despite the glowing praise so far, there are reasons to be skeptical and to believe that Charlie Jones will go as late as the middle of day three—and I do think that if that happens, fans of the team that drafts him will have to have low expectations.
For people looking for the next Cooper Kupp, you have to remember that the Rams picked Kupp with the 69th overall pick. Though Kupp played FCS competition and was considered one of the “losers” at the 2017 combine, L.A. knew that he wasn’t going to be a day three sleeper—his film and the buzz around the league told the Rams that he was a day two pick. If there are teams that view Charlie Jones as a potential WR3 and a high-volume slot receiver, he will go on day two. If teams think his ceiling isn’t that high, he’ll be a day three pick and then his best case scenario is probably Isaiah McKenzie—and even that is very generous.
He’s not young
Part of the reason that Charlie Jones was able to dominate college players last year is that he was three, four, sometimes five years older than most of them. He was a two-star recruit in 2017, redshirted one year at Buffalo, played the next season, transferred to Iowa and sat out one year, played the next two seasons, and then transferred to Purdue and got a headstart on every other receiver in the program because he’s friends with O’Connell.
Not that he didn’t deserve it, but he had six years in college and entered 2022 with 39 catches for 718 yards and six touchdowns. Charlie Jones will be a 25-year-old rookie.
Going back to Dotson, Richardson, Robinson, Young, McKenzie—they all entered the NFL at 21. Addison and Downs are 21.
Kupp was a 24-year-old rookie so that’s another reason for Charlie Jones to use him as a comparison. “If Kupp could do it, I could do it.” I don’t bring up the age because we’re worried about if he’s going to be able to play 10 years in the league, it’s more about whether or not his production was significantly influenced by his age and experience and his stats are the main reason we’re talking about him so much despite a day three projection.
If you even reduce his stats by 20-percent, I’m sorry we’re just not talking about Charlie Jones this much. And then add in that he had such a good prior relationship with the QB, got a ton of targets, and played in the same offense that Bell dominated in—without Bell being a good athlete compared to his peers—it should call into question his ceiling and value.
“Elite” NFL Comparison: Danny Amendola
When I think of Charlies Jones’s best case scenario, I don’t think of Kupp—who is 6’2, 208 lbs, and an elite route runner, a blocker, a bully and a dominator—I think of Amendola. Which would be amazing for him! Amendola was a 24-year-old rookie in 2009 and then he played for five teams over 13 seasons and had 6,212 career yards.
Danny Amendola is 5’11, 185, ran a 6.81 in the three-cone, good 40, returned kicks and punts.
He wasn’t drafted. And he should have been drafted, but he shouldn’t have been drafted very high. He never had 700 yards in a season. He caught 24 touchdowns in 13 years. If the Seahawks end up drafting Charlie Jones in the fifth round, they may end up getting a good fifth round pick.
For what a fifth round pick is meant to be. When we talk about Tyreek Hill and Stefon Diggs, two fifth round picks, we’re not talking about guys who happen 10-percent of the time. We’re talking about receivers who come after the fourth round…maybe 1-percent of the time!
If for whatever reason teams see Charlie Jones as a starting wide receiver prospect, then I believe he will go in the third round and MAYBE he falls to early on day three like Amon-Ra St. Brown. However, if teams see him as a Danny Amendola type, which would be a huge compliment, then he’s going to go in the fifth round or later. What does that tell Seahawks fans?
You don’t draft Charlie Jones to make up for not drafting Zay Flowers (or someone like that)
In the past, I’ve hyped up Zay Flowers out of Boston College, a guy being projected in the top-25 picks, if not the first receiver drafted. If you lined him next to Charlie Jones you would see little physical differences and in fact, Charlie Jones is two inches taller and ran a faster 10-yard split. You might say, “This guy and that guy, I’ll take the fourth round guy, they’re the same.”
This is why teams don’t draft players based on combine results.
The team that drafts Flowers is going to be banking on whether they get an unfortunate bust OR Tyler Lockett. Yes, there are plenty of in-betweens there, but Flowers has such obvious upside to maybe have that Chris Olave-level impact right away. The team that drafts Charlie Jones doesn’t really have to worry if they got a bust—although Pete and John’s history with fourth round receivers suggests they know how to waste the hell out of those picks—but they almost certainly will not get Tyler Lockett.
Like I said, they’re thinking that there’s like a 50-percent chance he doesn’t make the team, a 25-percent chance he’s on the team for a couple of years or three, a 20-percent chance he’s Isaiah McKenzie, and a four-percent chance he’s Amendola. Maybe a one-percent chance he’s the pick of the year.
I think the Seattle Seahawks should draft a wide receiver in 2023 who has the potential to replace Tyler Lockett or even DK Metcalf—anyone who could be an elite reciever in 2024 or 2025 and beyond because those guys are expensive, hard to find, and as we have seen with most playoff teams recently, really important. If the Seahawks want to draft Charlie Jones in addition to that player, that’s fine.
But they can’t expect to find a high-volume, explosive, high-ceiling wide receiver on day three. Not even Jones.
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