When the Cincinnati Bengals traded Chad Ochocinco to the New England Patriots, where he thrived with 15 receptions with one of the greatest quarterbacks in this generation, the Bengals received New England's fifth-round pick for this year, as well as next year's six. So when it came time for the team to draft the No. 166 player of the 2012 NFL draft, they continued with a rebuilding philosophy at the wide receiver position, 83 picks after selecting Rutgers' wide receiver Mohamed Sanu.
As we try to learn about the newest Bengals, we're reaching out to SB Nation sites that followed their collegiate careers. The great writers at California Golden Bears site California Golden Blogs spent a few minutes with us talking about Cincinnati's newest receiver, Marvin Jones.
Various scouting reports suggest that Marvin Jones has excellent body control, natural fluidity as a route runner and a certain fearlessness. What would you add to your observations of Jones?
atomsareenough: Those reports sound right to me. He has great body control, and excellent sideline awareness. He's made countless incredible catches on the edge, leaping beyond a defender and still having the presence of mind to drag his feet inbounds. His route running is solid, and he is very physical when it comes to making a play on the ball.
Some reports tend to suggest that Jones rounds the edges of his route, needing to tighten those up, especially on deeper-routes? Would you agree with that assessment?
Kodiak: For short to mid-ranged routes, I think he's excellent. On deeper routes, he drifts at times. Just like they showed in the playoffs last year where Giants wide receiver Mario Manningham drifted to the sidelines on a deep route and didn't give Eli Manning enough room to hit him. I'm not sure if that's so much a knock on Jones or the fact that he has had inconsistent and inaccurate QBs throwing him the ball. I think the reason he opened so many eyes with his route-running at the Combine and Senior Bowl is that the tape makes it look like his routes drift. On the other hand, you have to realize that the throws were constantly underthrown, overthrown, or off-target. Some QBs make their supporting cast look better. Jones always made his QBs look better.
NorCalNick: That's not the type of thing I noticed, but it wouldn't shock me if Cal's difficulty at the QB position and flux at WR coach over Marv's tenure might have helped some bad habits grow. I will say this: Dude's smart and dedicated. If there's a part of his game that is lacking, I have no doubt it's something he can fix with the help of good coaching.
You're the offensive coordinator on third-and-ten from the 50-yard line. Would you have Jones run vertical for the home-run, or run underneath for a first-down. And if the latter, which route would he be more comfortable with?
NorCalNick: I suppose it would depend on the skills of his fellow receivers. If I'm the Bengals, I have A.J. Green running a deep vertical to draw safety help away, with Jones running a crossing route or a sideline route. The crossing route to take advantage of catch radius, a sideline route to take advantage of his uncanny ability to haul in passes as he tip-toes the sidelines.
Kodiak: Either. It depends on your comfort zone. Our 3rd down bread n' butter was to work Jones on the sidelines. Even when defenders knew it was coming, he could get himself open, then tight-rope the sideline while either extending to make the catch or diving to scoop it from the turf. He was also adept at using a double move to get free deep.
With A.J. Green forcing much of the defense's focus, Jones could have plenty of single-coverage matchups. Jones is listed at 6'3", over 200 pounds. How well does he use his body against single-coverage?
Kodiak: Very well. He's not the classic burner, so he relies on routes, great hands, and body control to free himself. He's very, very skilled at catching the ball with his hands at either the apex of his jump or while attacking the ball before the defender can get there
atomsareenough: He's very good at using his body, and he's not afraid to mix it up or go all out to make a play. He's a strong, physical receiver, and he should excel in single-coverage.
Would you define him more as a home-run threat or a possession style receiver?
atomsareenough: Somewhat in between. He's fast and has pretty good elusiveness, though I wouldn't say he's necessarily got elite speed or quickness. However, he's very smooth and fluid, and should be able to pick up some decent yards after the catch if he's got a well-thrown ball. He didn't have the benefit of a lot of well-thrown balls in college, sadly. So, he should be more than a possession receiver, but I wouldn't expect him to be quite a Desean Jackson-style gamebreaker either.
Kodiak: More of a possession receiver who is able to get behind the defense with the right playcall and set-up. It's hard to say. I might see him as more of a deep threat had he played under a QB who could actually deliver that type of ball. I wouldn't be surprised to see him develop that part of his game.
How would you grade him as a blocker?
NorCalNick: To be honest, I can't recall an obvious instance over the past few years in which I really noticed his blocking skills, but that's likely more a knock on my own observations rather than Marv's blocking. I will say that Cal ran a ton of bubble screens and short passes in space designed to get the ball to Keenan Allen - those types of plays certainly depend on WR blocking and they were generally successful. That certainly indicated that the coaching staff had at least a basic level of confidence in the blocking ability of Jones, who was on the field most of the time on plays like that.
Additionally, Cal had plenty of success with runs to the edge. My sense is that Marvin probably wasn't a guy who could physically dominate a cornerback and take him out of the play, but he could hold a block long enough to give a running back a window of opportunity.
Kodiak: Excellent. Very physical and willing. Extremely strong. WRs in Cal's offense under Tedford have to be able to block. Jones set up a lot of big runs on the edges last year with crackbacks or by taking out someone in the secondary.