Charles has the ability to come into Jay Gruden’s West Coast Offense and make an immediate impact. His speed and playmaking ability create mismatch opportunities against opposing linebackers, and coupled with Pro Bowler Jermaine Gresham, who is more of a physical, “out-muscle you” tight end, Charles and Gresham could become the Bengals TE version of thunder and lightning. Durability isn’t a concern, as he started all 14 games as a junior.
Don’t let his undersized frame fool you. He is very physical, and notched 35 bench press reps at combine. Despite his off-the-field hiccup, his leadership at Georgia made him one of the most respected Bulldogs while he was in Athens. He was the offensive captain, made the honor roll 4 times, and was inducted into Student Athlete Leadership Academy at Georgia. He also shines in big games. He had a career high 6 catches & 109 yds with a TD vs. #5 Boise State. He also had 6 for 108 and a TD against Florida in 2010, and 5 for 95 yards against in-state rival Georgia Tech.
Despite his physical ability, his blocking is very suspect. Although he improved it during his junior year, will need work at the next level to block larger defensive players. He also was a victim of several inopportune drops. He was inconsistent in pass catching at times, with some drops coming in open space. That appeared to be more of a focus issue. He’s an undersized TE at 6’2″, but that didn’t stop him from being productive in the SEC against other NFL talent, so that’s not as much of a concern as most scouts made of it.
Charles can come in and learn behind starter Jermaine Gresham and veteran Donald Lee. He can fill a niche role as a 2nd tight end and give defenses mismatch problems while learning the offense as a rookie, so Cincinnati is a great situation for Charles. The Bengals continue their recent trend of finding good depth in the middle and late rounds by taking a flier on a kid who, hopefully, has put his off-field issues in the rearview.
Orson has great physical tools. He has been a better receiver than I expected thus far so I’m excited to watch him continue to grow during training camp and the preseason.