To the surprise of, well, not many, the Los Angeles Rams decided to cut their losses and trade away wide receiver Allen Robinson to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Just one year removed from inking a 3-year, $46.5M deal with Los Angeles, Robinson was sent to the Steelers in exchange for a 7th round pick swap. You read that right by the way, the Rams gave Pittsburgh Allen Robinson in exchange for trading 7th round picks. Even though the deal was outrageous, the deal is done, meaning the Rams may have a need at receiver sooner than they could have imagined.
With the loss of Robinson and the loss of Robinson along with the looming expiring contract of Van Jefferson coming at the conclusion of the 2023-2024 season, it is fair to assume that the Rams will use at least one of their bevy of draft selections next week on some receiving depth. Given the fact that the team's needs far exceed just the receiver position, L.A. will need to use a later pick in order to address the need unless some stud unexpectedly falls to them at 36.
With that being said, there is a receiver in this draft class that I believe the Rams could snag with one of their three 5th round compensatory picks. That receiver is Charlie Jones, a standout receiver from Purdue University.
Jones, who stands at 5’11” and weighs about 175 pounds, did not produce much in college until he transferred to Purdue, where he was a production machine. In his lone season with the Boilermakers, Jones hauled in 110 receptions for 1,361 yards and 12 TDs despite every opponent knowing he was their clear WR1.
Jones ran an impressive 4.43 forty-yard dash at the combine, as well as a 36’ inch vertical jump and 10’ 4” in the broad jump, proving he definitely possesses NFL level athleticism and explosion.
However, the stats and the athleticism do not tell the whole story with Jones, as the tape matches the gaudy numbers for the young man from Deerfield, Illinois. In the clip below, you will be able to see Charlie Jones (#15) going up agaisnt Joey Porter Jr. out of Penn St., a corner that is basically a lock to be a first round selection in the upcoming draft:
Don't sleep on Purdue WR Charlie Jones as a mid-round option for the #Patriots. 110 catches, 1,361 yards, and 12 TDs in the Big Ten last year.— Evan Lazar (@ezlazar) March 28, 2023
One of the top technicians in this class with a 4.43s 40. Some wins against Joey Porter Jr. here. pic.twitter.com/t1RxrHFWXP
In the first play show, Jones shows a solid release off the football with no wasted motion, winning the rep against Porter from the get-go. In the second clip, Jones struggles to get real separation from Porter, but shows strong hands and the ability to make a catch through some contact.
The following video is a solid breakdown of Jones against Wisconsin, a game where he racked up 10 receptions for 105 yards:
As one can see in the video, Jones is an efficient route-runner that plays every play with the same intensity, whether or not he is getting the football. Given his size, he will definitely not get very many snaps outside the numbers a ton and will be more so lined up off-ball in the NFL to minimize the amount of hands being put on him as he gets into his routes. The way I see it is Cooper Kupp cannot play forever, and Charlie Jones plays sort of the same brand of football without the incredible YAC ability that Kupp possesses. He even watches Kupp instructional videos to prepare.
Not only can Jones help out offensively, but he has some valuable experience as a returner, another position of need following the departure of Brandon Powell, adding even more of a reason for the Rams to take a shot on him.
Listen, I am well aware of the fact that the Rams are sort of obsessed with taking wide receivers even with needs elsewhere. However, they do need a receiver to help out with all-around depth and special teams roles, both of which Charlie Jones can provide. I’m not guaranteeing that Jones will be a superstar or a “diamond in the rough”, but he has a real chance to be a solid player that plays for a really long time in the NFL, which is enough for me to hope for the Rams to take a chance on him sometime in the 5th round.