As late as a few days going into the 2012 NFL Draft, many analysts had former University of Georgia tight end, Orson Charles, slated as a fringe first to second round draft pick in mock drafts. He was labeled as a "finisher" after catching and running with the ball, as well as a physical specimen.
An unfortunate DUI incident had Charles slipping into the fourth round and into the Bengals' lap.
With Charles' arrival, Bengals fans had visions of the New England Patriots offense dancing in their heads. Charles and starter Jermaine Gresham are expected to provide a nice one-two combination at the position and the offense could see dividends in the red zone area. In the early portions of camp, Charles has really grabbed the attention of his coaches.
Of his newest offensive toy, coordinator Jay Gruden said:
Rookie tight end Orson Charles, the fourth-round pick from Georgia, has shown up. Gruden says he's swimming mentally just because tight ends have to learn both the run and pass game ("It's the toughest position to come in and play," Gruden says), but he also says the guy is an eye-opener.
"Physically he's shown things that are very exciting," said Gruden, who lobes Charles's route running. "His strength is unreal."
This is the kind of tough player that the Bengals need on offense. Someone who can make the catch over the middle and move the sticks, as well as a guy who can come down with the catch amidst the traffic in the red zone. The Bengals were one of the worst teams in the NFL, in terms of 2011 red zone touchdown efficiency, so it's expected that a player like Charles will help alleviate the team from having another poor ranking in that area in 2012.
Gruden isn't the only one taking notice of Charles' abilities. Head coach Marvin Lewis has been seeing good things out of the rookie as well.
Lewis has also been impressed.
"Orson has exceeded in every way my expectations," he said. "I knew he was a big, strong guy. But his ability to run and catch the ball has been impressive."
The team now has two tight ends that are more than able to help in the passing game. And, unlike in years past in a different offensive system, let's hope that Gruden and Co. can find creative ways to use both Charles and Gresham.