It’s impossible to lead the nation in catches, finish second in yards, and set school records at Purdue without at least getting noticed by the NFL. Sometimes it can be difficult though to get teams and fans to believe that you’re going to replicate that success at the next level, which was skepticism that Cooper Kupp faced as an all-time FCS player coming out of Eastern Washington in 2017.
Perhaps that’s one reason that Charlie Jones has modeled his game and his resume after Kupp.
With 110 catches and 1,361 yards last year for the Boilermakers (he could have had even more but sat out the bowl game), Jones has put himself on the radar with NFL scouts despite not being considered a pro prospect after his first five years in college. A two-star recruit who played in a Wing-T offense in high school and therefore didn’t get many opportunities to showcase his abilities as a receiver, Jones first went to Buffalo and then transferred to Iowa after two years.
Jones received no scholarship offers when he transferred and chose Iowa because he knew that they gave walk-ons legitimate opportunities to make the team, which he did as a returner in 2020. Jones scored a punt return touchdown that year and then a kickoff return touchdown the next, but still wasn’t getting many chances on offense and again decided to transfer. This time, Charlie Jones went to Purdue, which is also where his childhood friend Aidan O’Connell happened to be the starting quarterback.
Facing probable top-20 pick Joey Porter, Jr. in his debut with the Boilermakers, Jones had 12 catches for 153 yards and a touchdown. He would have 325 yards and four touchdowns over the next two games and then five more 100-yard games throughout the season. That included 13 catches for 162 yards against Michigan in the last game of the year.
Jones is still projected as a day three pick despite running a 4.43 40-yard dash and a 1.51 10-yard split at the combine, most likely because of his age (he will turn 25 this year) and probable future in the slot as a 5’11, 175 lbs receiver and special teamer. He is hoping to surprise people in the same way that Kupp did as a third round pick in 2017 and he noted at the combine that he has modeled much of his game after Kupp, including by studying his YouTube videos.
Charlie Jones says he’s been watching Kupp for “a long time”.
“I’ve been watching Cooper Kupp for a long time now. He’s got a lot of teaching tape stuff on YouTube that he actually walks through himself, footwork stuff that I’ve been trying to watch and breakdown myself.”
Though Jones is modeling his game after Kupp and former teammate K.J. Osborn, now playing for former Rams OC Kevin O’Connell on the Vikings, I think there’s a different Rams player who he is much more alike: Danny Amendola. The two share similar sizes, college histories, speeds, return abilities, and he probably has a ceiling closer to Amendola than to Kupp. For obvious reasons.
If the Rams want to give Jones the chance to learn from Kupp directly instead of on YouTube, they might need to trade up in the fifth because they don’t have their fourth rounder. Unless he slips that far, which is hard to project right now. If not, he can keep studying Kupp’s videos on YouTube.