In an occasional feature, we're going to briefly highlight any of the lesser-known players that make an unexpected impact during camp or in the season. Today, we focus on undrafted rookie wide receiver Irvin Charles:
What he did:
Charles has been making plays at camp, seemingly gaining momentum where most undrafted free agents might ordinarily start to lose ground to more established players:
The biggest surprise for me in my two days at #Jets camp: WR Irvin Charles.— Henry McKenna (@McKennAnalysis) August 20, 2022
He’s been making plays when he’s on the field with Joe Flacco. Just logged a pretty route and catch on 7s.
This comes after a preseason game where he was targeted unsuccessfully three times in the red zone, including on one play where he went up over the defensive back to snag a high pass but failed to complete the catch as he hit the ground. The fact they repeatedly looked for him near the goal line is potentially notable though.
In addition to these targets, Charles also showcased some of the other things he bring to the table with a good downfield block and a play on special teams where he flew downfield from the gunner position to help blow up a return.
The Jets' top four receiver positions seem locked in and, barring an injury or an unexpected trade, most fans expect Jeff Smith and Denzel Mims to compete to be the 5th wide receiver. The Jets could carry six, but this might be tricky with their apparent depth at running back and tight end.
It may not be impossible for Charles to get into that mix with Mims and Smith if he can make a few plays in the remaining preseason games. Smith has retained a role over the past few years partly on the basis of his ability to contribute as a gunner, so if Charles - who was good in this role in college - can do the same, they may prefer his upside given his superior size.
Ordinarily, you'd be weighing up whether the rookie could be a viable younger alternative to the veterans he is competing with. However, Charles took such a circuitous path to the NFL that he's actually eight days old than Smith - and six months older than Mims.
As a rookie, he would be marginally cheaper to retain, though, so the Jets could still consider this. Look for them to target Charles if they get down into the red zone again on Monday night. If they do, this could be a sign he's in contention for a roster spot.
More on Charles:
Here's the in-depth scouting report on Charles.