Chiefs WR Jon Baldwin will be heading into his third year with the team, this time under a whole new coaching staff. And maybe that's exactly what the young receiver needs. Baldwin, who was drafted 26th overall in the 2011 NFL Draft by former GM Scott Pioli has yet to make any kind of impact on this team as a first round pick. At 6'4, 230 pounds out of the University of Pittsburgh, Baldwin was expected to come in as the second wide receiver and counterpart to Pro Bowler Dwayne Bowe. But he has struggled to get himself going as an NFL player and it didn't start out well either. Before his rookie season could even kickoff, Baldwin got into a locker room fight with then KC RB Thomas Jones and suffered a wrist injury that sidelined him for almost half of the 2011 season.
When he returned from his injury, Baldwin actually showed great promise in his first game at Arrowhead Stadium. He would go on to catch his first touchdown pass of his career on Monday Night Football against the San Diego Chargers on a 39 yard pass from QB Matt Cassel. And it was an impressive catch, hauling it in over the coverage and showing some flash of his ability. But since that game in mid 2011, Baldwin has not been able to find production and consistency on the field. In his first two seasons in the league he only has one other touchdown catch and under 600 total yards receiving.
With Baldwin's size as a wideout, his productivity on the field should be a lot better. He came into the league with an attitude and apparently did not like what veteran Thomas Jones had to say about him. But it wasn't surprising to see the immaturity. Now entering his third year, hopefully more mature, and with a new coaching staff, maybe this is what the kid needs to jump start his career. If teams gave out MVP awards in the offseason, Jon Baldwin would have won that award last year. He was a star in practices a year ago, making acrobatic catches and showing what he can do. But once the pads were put on and the season came, Baldwin became invisible.
Now he is having another strong start in spring practices, granted, without pads and just shorts. But he is a player who has tremendous upside and has shown signs in the past of making big plays. While he continues to work hard at his craft, Baldwin knows he's going to have to prove himself to the new staff, especially Andy Reid, if he wants to see lots of playing time. Reid spoke about his wideout at the voluntary minicamp.
"Jon is working hard. He is a unique specimen being as big as he is. He can do some things that other people can't do just by size and strength. It's important he puts himself into the position to do that. He's working hard to do that. He's young. Developing as a receiver in the National Football League takes time in a lot of cases. He needs to continue to work at it. But he sure has a nice skill level."
If Jon Baldwin can find himself this year and become the productive player the Chiefs expected from him as a first round draft choice, it will be a huge boost to this new offense and to this team. But he has to want it first.
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