It was a little surprising when the Bengals double-dipped at wide receiver in the 2023 NFL Draft. The cupboard seemed relatively stocked, while positions like interior defensive line and tight end could have used addressing.
Still, the two guys the Bengals grabbed seem to be studs with varying skill sets. Fourth-rounder Charlie Jones doesn’t have the stature of sixth-round receiver Andrei Iosivas, but he brings special teams pop, savvy route-running skills, and a lot of other things to the table.
- Height: 6’0”
- Weight: 188 pounds
- Age: 24
- College: Buffalo/Iowa/Purdue
- Hometown: Deerfield, IL
- Years Pro: Rookie
Jones is in the first year of his four-year rookie deal. His 2023 cap number is $919,694, which accounts for just 0.4% of the team’s salary cap (per OverTheCap).
Background and Outlook
Jones had quite the path in his collegiate career. He started off at the University of Buffalo, redshirting his true freshman year, then racked up 18 catches for 395 yards and three touchdowns, as well as 289 yards on 15 kick returns in 2018.
He transferred to Iowa for two seasons, notching 21 receptions, 323 yards, three receiving touchdowns, along with a punt and kickoff return touchdown and 1,141 total return yards. However, it was a transfer to Purdue as a “super senior” that allowed him to break out as a receiver with a whopping 110 catches, 1,361 yards, and 12 scores.
While his age is a knock, the Bengals hope they’ve found an old bottle of fine wine with a receiver/returner polished to be NFL-ready. It’s possible he’s the slot heir to Tyler Boyd, but for now, he’ll be down the depth chart as a receiver while being relied upon for return duty.
Jones struggled in the preseason opener against the Packers but ended up improving over the other two contests. The wild card with Jones’ 2023 season is a reported labrum injury he suffered in training camp, so hopefully, that won’t hinder him.
Still, the Bengals are in need of some extra sizzle in the return game since it stalled a bit after Brandon Wilson’s stellar 2019-2020 seasons on special teams. Trent Taylor had five returns of over 20 yards last year, but the team is looking for more consistency with the big plays.
Jones likely won’t light up the stat sheet this year but should bring that coveted consistency in the return game, as well as the occasional clutch catch.