Jonathan Baldwin: A Number One Hit

 

“I’m a big play maker. I make a lot of spectacular catches.”

“I block down the field for the great RBs that we have.”

“I do a lot of extra things before and after practice.”

“…great tradition and great fans. I’m excited

to play for Hunt and Haley and continue the tradition.”

~Jonathan Baldwin

That’s all music to my ears. In fact, Jonathan Baldwin is a number one hit.  A lot has been said about the Kansas City Chiefs’ #1 draft pick and frankly it isn’t all positive. No, it’s not all Black and White issues with Mr. Baldwin but, he is neither a Wild Thing, as some say, or a Wannabe but, I’m sure he’s not a one hit wonder either. However, if you jam on anyone long enough then you’re bound to find more than Incense and Peppermints.

Good sense, innocence, cripplin’ mankind
Dead kings, many things I can’t define
Occasions, persuasions clutter your mind
Incense and peppermints, the color of time.

The Strawberry Alarm Clock’s number one hit from November of 1967 says it well. There are many things I can’t define about Jon Baldwin and at times good sense comes into question but, the more I look at his life, the more there is to like. Now, the sound of JBal in a Chief’s uniform has become The Sweetest Thing.

More after the break

After researching numerous videos and audio interviews, as well as a myriad of articles, on Jonathan Baldwin I’m convinced he’s a good guy, got a bum rap in this year’s draft and could have been rated and drafted much, much higher. An interview with Jon on 810 WHB last weekend following the draft reveals a softer, gentler JB than portrayed by the media. BTW, after the interview his new teammate, Shaun Great Balls of Fire Smith, texted him to tell him to stop giving interviews. So he has.

Jonathan Baldwin is 6-4 3/8 and 228 lbs. He’s a Leo, born on August 10, 1989, is the son of Jeffrey and Tezmalita Baldwin, has two sisters and his father was a defensive lineman at Pitt. Baldwin attended Aliquippa High School in Pennsylvania where he was a McDonald’s All-American in basketball. This is the same high school that produced Mike Ditka, Ty Law, Sean Gilbert and Darrelle Revis (you could say Baldwin is the fifth Beatle). He makes a point of saying he wants to continue their legacy. He went on to Pitt University, the same university Larry Fitzgerald attended, and he makes sure to point that out. Jon had notable sophomore and junior seasons at Pitt. In 2009 he averaged 19.5 yards on 57 receptions while catching passes from QB Bob Stull. In 2010 Baldwin averaged 15.6 yards per catch on 53 receptions while taking lobs from QB Tino Sunseri.

On February 26, 2011, Jon Baldwin met with Michael Irvin and Brian Billick on the NFL Network field. They spoke for a few minutes and Irvin coached him up a bit. Baldwin comes across shy more than anything. He rocks back and forth as they speak to him and smiles at their comments. Nothing in that interview says DIVA. Yet, that’s exactly what Mike Mayock called him on draft day. Take a look for yourself at the NFL Network interview. He’s So Shy.

Let’s get physical, physical
I wanna get physical
Let’s get into physical
Let me hear your body talk, your body talk.

From December of 1981 Olivia Newton-John’s #1 hit might sound a bit wimpy but it’s perfect for describing Jonathan Baldwin: Physical.  Any analysis of Jon Baldwin begins with his incredible physical characteristics. Even those who speak negatively of Baldwin go on and on about how gifted he is physically.

-          “His potential is off the charts”  ~ NFL Network.com

-          “2/28/11: Jonathan Baldwin ran a great 40 (4.45) considering his massive frame (6-4, 228). He also posted a 42-inch vertical and a 10-foot-9 broad jump.” ~ WalterFootball.com

-          “Produced in an offense without a quarterback- the QB just tossed the ball and hoped Baldwin could adjust and make the catch. As a result, he has a fantastic catch radius. Pitt is a run-first offense, so he’s a solid run blocker. Plays well against top talent. Large size will get him YAC as arm tackles aren’t successful.” ~PatsPulpit.com

-           “No question, Jon Baldwin was the player to see at Pittsburgh’s recent pro day, and he didn’t disappoint. Baldwin, who measured in at 6-foot-4 and 224 pounds and stood on all of his measurable from the NFL Scouting Combine, was outstanding in his workouts.” ~CBS Sports.com

-          “Baldwin has a great combination of size and athleticism. He has reliable hands and he adjusts to the ball in the air as well as any receiver in this draft. He uses his size well to shield defenders from the ball and attacks the ball in the air to high point it before the defender can make a play on it.” ~ Tom Melton’s NFL Draft Blog

-          Pitt defensive teammate DB Ricky Gary describes Jonathan Baldwin as a “physical freak.”

Jonathan Baldwin attempting to block a field goal.

WHAT UP with Jonathan Baldwin?

Yes, Jonathan Baldwin can leap over tall buildings in a single bound (see photo above), but he’s also had to endure an inferior QB last season and the comments he made about him were interpreted as being of poor character. It’s called “throwing him under the bus.” When Todd McShay or Mike Mayock say they have “character concerns” about a player many people overreact. A lot of their comments get echoed online and become repetitious, hyper-critical and inaccurate.  A lot of this has been unfair to Jonathan Baldwin.

It’s just your jive talkin’, you’re telling me lies, yeah
Jive talkin’, you wear a disguise
Jive talkin’, so misunderstood, yeah
Jive talkin’, you really no good.

This Bee Gees #1 hit from August 1975 says that if you’re lying you’re probably not a good person but lying is not Jon Baldwin’s sin. What he did was express his frustration about the play of someone else who has had an effect on his own on-field production and consequently his draft position. Jon is just now learning the fragile beast that is 21st century public relations and his impulsive response to the shortcomings of an inexperienced Pitt QB, Tino Sunseri, should be understandable. I recall a Chiefs game last season when Barry Richardson expressed his frustration by pushing an assistant coach and Todd Haley later called him a prideful guy who really cared about winning. When ex-GM, and now NFL Network commentator, Mike Mayock called Jon Baldwin a DIVA it got national attention and over reactive comments like that may have caused Baldwin to fall in the draft.  However, I can’t find a pattern of Jive Talking anywhere in my research of this young man.

Specifically, here’s what happened. The following was part of a post by John Taylor for NBC News on December 8, 2010:

“Reached through text message Tuesday evening and asked if it was safe to say he would forego his senior year with Wannstedt stepping down, Baldwin responded, “No, it’s not safe to say that. It doesn’t change my quarterback!”

At first, it sounded as if Baldwin was non-committal on his future, but when asked, “Why would you stay [for your senior season] when you have no chemistry with QB Tino Sunseri, a new coach/system taking over next season and possibly hurt your draft stock for the 2012 draft, Baldwin clarified, “Oh, I misunderstood you … Heck yeah I’m leaving. It can only get worse. They had me running a lot of deep routes [this year] and yards were hard to come by. I barely ran intermediate routes; it felt like they were purposely trying to disrupt my draft stock.”

Part of this appears to be a misunderstanding while another part is pure aggravation. Also, Baldwin has been accused of being paranoid because he felt that the Pitt QB was doing this purposely to hurt his draft standing. We’ve all taken things too personally before so, I’m not freaking out about his either.

In an interview this March Baldwin said, “I went from 57 to 53 catches and I saw that number drop because I didn’t have many long balls and that’s my fault.” “My fault?” Hmm. Does that sounds like a DIVA to you? It sounds like he’s moved on so maybe we can move on too. When asked about which teams he prefers to be chosen by Baldwin says, whatever team takes me, it will be a great decision.

We Are Family. You may have noticed that whatever job you work or group you become a part of you are creating a new family. This is true for Jonathan Baldwin too. His new family is not the NFL. His new family is primarily the Kansas City Chiefs and then the NFL. At a personal level it is the players and coaches who will work with and deal with him daily. I’m spelling all this out because all of the dynamics that apply to a nuclear family apply here. With Jonathan Baldwin having a history that some are questioning it’s important that he not be labeled a black sheep before he even gets here. That’s hard for fans to do when there is the Eric Berry factor. When a draft pick comes in and turns out to be one of the 100 best in the NFL, as voted on by his peers, then every first round pick after him will likely be judged by that standard. Just remember that’s not fair to Jon Baldwin even if he does turn out to be another Eric Berry.

I’ve heard and read all about Jonathan Baldwin’s run in with the law a couple of years ago but those charges were dropped. Dropped. Period. End of case. Bringing up that story now and relating it to this conflict with the Pitt QB is needless, unfortunate and not at all productive. This is part of a trend. Reporters are eager to be “right” about predicting a negative future so they can say “I told you so” at some future date. They are promoting themselves instead of hope, encouragement or even reason. Jonathan Baldwin is part of the Chiefs family now so, let’s be glad for that. Don’t Worry, Be Happy.

One of the other criticisms about the selection of Jon Baldwin has been that he’s too much like Dwayne Bowe, the Chiefs leading receiver in 2010. My response to that is ah-shucks-what-a-shame. Bowe made the Pro Bowl with 1,162 receiving yards last season and if JBal does the same as DBowe I’m going to have to Cry Me a River. Also, Baldwin has run a 4.45 40 and although it takes him a little longer to get going, his top end speed is beyond Bowe’s capabilities.

An ex-NFL coach was asked about any concerns the Chiefs should have with Jon Baldwin and he said, “None of these kids are pro-ready. If he’s willing to work, that’s what’s important.” And working is exactly what Baldwin has been doing and plans to do this off season. In an interview on March 25, 2011 with PFT: Live, Baldwin was asked about what he’s been doing to work out this off season. He said he’d seen Larry Fitzgerald and Darrelle Revis and worked with them both. Fitzgerald had shown him “ways to get out of my breaks”, “ways to work on having good routes”, and “being fluid out of my breaks.” Darrelle Revis showed him how to “press release” and how to be “getting off of the jam.” Revis also told him things that some receivers do that he doesn’t like and so Jon wants to work to incorporate those into his game.

Also from the PFT: Live interview Baldwin was asked about criticism of catching the ball into his body too much. Baldwin replied, “I pattern myself after Larry Fitzgerald and he never catches with his body, always with his hands. Go back and look at all the tape of me and I always try to catch with my hands.” When asked what else he’d be focusing on this off season Baldwin said, route running, ball skills, footwork, quickness, endurance, sharpness out of cuts, deep balls, not wasting any time coming out of breaks, getting off the line and trying to be a polished overall receiver by working on his blocking and down field blocking skills. He also mentions that he will be participating in the Larry Fitzgerald camp in Indianapolis in June. The same LF camp that Dwayne Bowe attended last summer and we know how that turned out. Plus, Jonathan has said he has plans to meet with Matt Cassel.

Just how Jonathan is going to fit into the Chiefs plans was discussed with Herm Edwards in a WHB 810 interview earlier this week. He said, “Baldwin is a physical guy with good body control who’s going to help in the red zone in the 2 minute, and he will give the QB a big target in the 2 minute. Now, they’ll throw the ball in places where they won’t with a small guy. The Chiefs will face a lot of 8 guys in the package because of JC and Thomas Jones and the running game is good. A lot of teams are going to play Bowe and Baldwin one-on-one and even if they’re covered tight they can still jump up and catch the ball so, I think this helps them.”

Jon Baldwin is a good guy. Really. Any of us would be crying foul if a co-worker cost us millions of dollars. It was rather fortuitous for the Chiefs that he fell down the draft board because now they have what is perhaps a top ten talent for the #26 pick in the draft. You can say that’s fanatical but, just wait until the pundits do their re-draft of this year’s crop 3 years from now. I’ll be right here, Watching and Waiting.

When it comes to K.C. Chiefs wide receivers, if you’re thinking, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, you’d likely be wrong to think that way. Why, because the Chiefs have a #1 hit on their hands!

Now, it’s time for Haley to teach him Smells Like Team Spirit.

 

Tags: Jonathan Baldwin Kansas City Chiefs