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Film Room: Charlie Jones will keep opponents up at night


NCAA Football: Big Ten Championship-Purdue vs Michigan
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The rest of the NFL is going to regret letting the Bengals get Charlie Jones

Special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons was quoted this offseason, saying that he wanted a returner that put the “fear of God” into the other team. Fans can agree with that sentiment.

Every year, we fantasize about drafting a star returner. We thought we had it a few years ago, but for whatever reason Darius Phillips was never unleashed.

This year, it finally happened, but the Cincinnati Bengals got much more than a return specialist in Charlie Jones. Jones was a start returner at Iowa, but transferred to Purdue for his final season and had a breakout season as a wide receiver. He totaled 110 receptions for 1,361 yards and 12 touchdowns in his only season with the Boilermakers.

Let’s start by looking at what Jones brings to this offense.

Charlie Jones was incredibly productive last season, and it wasn’t because he padded his states against Iowa Lakes Community College. In fact, what stands out on his film is that he makes his biggest plays against the best competition. Jones was impressive against a pair of notable 2nd Round cornerbacks in Steelers legacy Joey Porter Jr. and, in this clip, new Bengal D.J. Turner.

Despite Turner’s 4.26 40, Jones manages to get a step on him. As the ball is thrown short, Jones is able to adjust, while Turner is trying not to get torched. As I will discuss in another article, Turner is an excellent cornerback, so this really says something about Jones.

To further this point, I present to you Syracuse’s Garrett Williams.

If not for injury, Williams would have been in the same tier of cornerbacks as Turner and Porter.

Here, Jones roasts him for a 55 yard touchdown.

How was Jones available on Day 2 when he habitually torches Day 2 cornerbacks?

Jones’ speed is underrated and his route-running is phenomenal.

By threatening him vertically, Jones put the cornerback on his heels and made it tough for him to break on the slant route. Not only does this lead to a completion, it leads to a score, the cornerback dives wildly at Jones legs.

Jones will need to show more as a blocker to truly earn the favor of the Bengals’ coaching staff, but he has demonstrated the requite physicality.

This play should have gone nowhere, but delivers a fierce stiff arm to the cornerback and outruns pursuit for the touchdown.

Jones is most likely to make an impact on special teams in his first season in Cincinnati. He can return both kicks and punts and with any luck will earn Simmons’s trust and take over those duties immediately.

In this clip from his days as a Hawkeye, Jones shows incredible vision, cutting back dramatically and taking the punt to the house.

You hope to get good blocks on the gunners, but it doesn’t always happen. A great punt returner needs to be able to make the first guy miss, and that’s just what Jones does in this clip. The result is 30 more yards than Iowa should have had.

Jones is a playmaker who can make something out of nothing.

When he does have the blocks, like on this kickoff return, he will make the opposition pay. Jones is a truly dangerous weapon on special teams.

Jones should see some snaps on offense and could establish himself as the heir-apparent to Tyler Boyd, but his largest impact in year one will be on special teams where his is the heir-immediate to Trent Taylor. Make no mistake, though. He is not merely a slot and a punt returner. He can play on the outside. Jones will give the Bengals the flexibility to move Ja’Marr Chase around to create favorable matchups.

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