Senior Bowl Player Profile: Purdue WR Charlie Jones
On February 4th, Mobile’s game will be held at Hancock-Whitney Stadium and over a hundred of the nation’s draft hopeful seniors will descend on the Gulf Coast for a week of practice in front of scouts from every NFL team before the Senior Bowl. Leading up to the game, we’ll take a look at a different prospect every day and talk about their background, their college career, where they could be drafted, and how the Senior Bowl could help them. Today, we’ll talk Purdue’s catching machine, Charlie Jones:
It would be fair to say that Charlie Jones has been around the block a little bit. He is a native of Deerfield, Illinois and attended Deerfield High School, where he earned all-conference honors as a junior and senior. As a relatively unknown 2-star recruit who 247 Composite had ranked as the 442nd receiver in the nation in the class of 2017, Jones committed to his only real Division 1 offer at Buffalo. After just one season at Buffalo where he caught 18 passes, he transferred to Iowa, but had to sit out the full 2019 season due to it being before the one-time free transfer rule.
Once Jones was allowed to play for the Hawkeyes, he blossomed into one of the best return specialists in the nation. He was first-team All Big Ten in this category in 2020 as well as honorable mention All-America. He built on this in 2021, being named first-team All Big Ten by nearly every major media outlet. He also took back a kickoff for a touchdown for the first time in his career in a victory over Illinois.
For all his return prowess at Iowa, however, Jones had never caught more than 21 passes in one season. That all changed this year when Jones used his final year of eligibility as a sixth-year graduate transfer to Purdue to reunite with his childhood friend, Boilermakers QB Aidan O’Connel. Jones absolutely exploded in 2022, catching 110 passes for 1,361 yards (Purdue school record for receiving yards in a season) and 12 touchdowns as the primary target in a pass happy offense. Jones was explosive and unstoppable in 2022, even being named a semi-finalist for the Biletnikoff Award (given to the nation’s best receiver). Hawkeye fans collectively groaned all year as they wondered why he was only used as a returner in Iowa City. Check out some of the best plays from this year and his whole career:
Current Draft Projection:
Jones’ draft status is one of the more difficult to predict. While he has had a good college career as a football player, he really only has this season at Purdue to show on tape as a true threat on the offensive side of the ball. And while it was a phenomenal season, scouts will definitely ask the question if Jones’ production was manufactured by the Boilermakers’ system. He is a true example of where the pre-draft process will be huge, as I can see him going anywhere from early Day 2 if a team falls in love with him to late Day 3 if he does not perform at the Senior Bowl and other pre-draft events.
How the Senior Bowl Could Help Him:
The Senior Bowl is going to feature a loaded group of receivers that Jones will be able to measure himself up against. SMU’s Rashee Rice, Houston’s Nathaniel Dell, and Ole Miss’ Jonathan Mingo headline a talented group of pass catchers in Mobile, but Jones is looking to prove that he belongs among the draft’s best. Jones is someone whom the Senior Bowl could help immensely due to the fact that there are questions about how his monster 2022 season will translate to Sundays. They say the draft starts in Mobile, and Jones can get on the path to turning himself into a surefire Day 2 pick with a great showing here.