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November 12, 2012; Pittsburgh , PA, USA; Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Jon Baldwin (89) drops a pass as he is hit by Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor (24) during the second half of the game at Heinz Field. The Steelers won the game, 16-13, in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

Is Baldwin a Bust?


The Kansas City Chiefs made Pittsburgh wide receiver, Jon Baldwin, their first overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. A lot has changed since then: Todd Haley is no longer head coach, nor, for that matter, the guy that replaced him in Romeo Crennel. And the guy that drafted him, Scott Pioli, yeah, he’s gone too. What has remained consistent, however, is Baldwin’s insistence to underwhelm.

His rookie season was shortened because he got in a fight with a guy that had some of the biggest biceps allowed by God. Not a smart move. But even when he came back, all that flash and potential Baldwin demonstrated at Pitt never showed up on the field in the pros; he couldn’t create separation from corners, he looked like he had no idea what to do in bump-and-run coverage, and cornerbacks quite a bit smaller than him had no problem jamming him at the line of scrimmage.

There were excuses, of course. The lockout shortened season made it hard on rookies. He wasn’t able to develop with the injury and when he did come back he had to have Tyler Palko throw to him. These excuses had their merit, so Chiefs fans practiced patience with Baldwin. In the training camp leading up to last season, and with Bowe holding out after being franchise tagged, Baldwin was the talk of the town. The one-handed catches, the leaping ability, the dives, the speed, the athleticism. They were all on full display, and this mythical chemistry was developing between Baldwin and quarterback Matt Cassel. But that’s all it was: a myth.

As Cassel as the starting quarterback, Baldwin wasn’t on the receiving end of any touchdowns, and his best receiving effort of the year actually came with Brady Quinn as the QB and included just 64 yards receiving. Baldwin’s lone touchdown catch of the season came against the Carolina Panthers. In fact, in Baldwin’s TWO seasons with the Chiefs, he has just 41 catches for 579 yards and 2 touchdowns. The two other wide receivers taken in the first round of the 2011 Draft, A.J. Green and Julio Jones, have combined for 4,564 yards and 36 touchdowns.

The amazing thing of all this might be that in 2011, New England Patriots head coach, Bill Belichick, advised Atlanta Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff to not trade up for Julio Jones but instead wait for Baldwin to fall to them at pick #27 if he really wanted a wide receiver. As Belichick put it, “he’s just as good”. Maybe that’s why the Patriots have always had trouble developing homegrown wide receiver talent.

With wide receivers, however, the three year rule is even more important than with other positions. Countless studies have been done, and it shows that for a wide receivers development, the third year is a pretty accurate barometer on if that player is going to make it in the NFL or not. This is the time when most receivers seem to finally make the transition to the NFL and install confidence in their quarterback that they will deliver as a quality receiver. And while Baldwin is transitioning to a new quarterback, a new head coach, and a new offense, it’s pretty imperative that he makes an impact on this season that has been lacking thus far in his career.

So, in Baldwin’s third season with the Chiefs, it’s make or break. His success will be the Chiefs success, but his failure will likely result in the Chiefs turning the page on their 2011 first round pick. Untapped potential sometimes remains untapped; let’s hope that isn’t the case with Baldwin. What would I consider a successful year? Even if Baldwin were to match his career stats, it probably still wouldn’t be enough to satisfy the coaching staff or front office. After all, Baldwin is inherited, and not one of their draft picks. So Baldwin better be above the 750 yards receiving/5 touchdown plateau if he wants to stay on and not have that “bust” label attached to him and his remaining tenure in the NFL.  Is that so much to ask?

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Tags: Bust Jon Baldwin Kansas City Chiefs

  • Chris Tarrants

    He will be fine, I think last year he was just sick of running 30 yard dashes for no reason! He knew that even when he created seperation that the ball would either be at his ankles or 4 feet over his head. He hung it up early just like all the offensive play makers except for Charles. Give him a qb that can put it on his numbers and hit him in stride and he will enter beast mode and we will have the dynamic duo of him and bowe

    • Danny W

      I agree the dude will be a stud with a decent quarterback and coach.

    • Kurt Rauch

      If the self-centered, prima donna ‘attitude’ you imply is truly owned by Baldwin, then there isn’t a TEAM in football that needs him. Hopefully, you have misjudged him.

      • KCMikeG

        Corrective steps can resolve that in a young player. With the coaching, veteran players influence and actual competitive depth he will have to be at his best to be on the field.

  • oldchiefsfan

    I don’t think we have enough information to determine either way. This year will tell what we have in him. I think he’ll be fine though. He’s big and relatively fast for his size. If Reid and Dorsey are correct we actually may have a QB capable of getting him the ball now. I am actually excited to see what he can do if our QB can hit him in stride or anywhere other than 5 feet over his head, 5 feet behind him or somewhere around his feet.

  • #1 CHIEFS FAN IN GA

    what he said

  • Danny W

    No not too much to ask. I think he will have some break out games and won’t bust out. This new scheme and all the passing we’re gonna do will make Baldwin a star. Take that to the bank.

  • kmon

    I thinks this is the yr he actually has a decent yr. plus look at who he had throwing the ball last yr. bowe even had his worst season last yr. so let’s give him one more yr

  • Stacy D. Smith

    Can’t hang all of Baldwin’s shortcomings on quarterback play. I hope he pans out, but he plays like a receiver Dexter McCluster’s size.

    • http://www.arrowheadaddict.com Patrick Allen

      Yeah, he’s a bust so far, based on where he was drafted. Bowe’s played with bad QBs his entire career but has managed to produce.

      He’s still a young man, though. Plenty of time to put his talent to use.

      • Stacy D. Smith

        He’s got one last season by my watch. He better make the most of it. This administration didn’t draft him and won’t be so reluctant to let him walk.

      • superman_25_58

        Hasn’t really had that Veteran leadership role at the WR spot for him to get better. That’s all going to change this offseason since like I said above he finally gets to study Bowe in the offseason and learn the little things to help him be able to get off the jam effectively and ultimately make his game better. I believe he will be a ton better this year with the guidance of Bowe…………. Finally!!

        • mg2098

          Remember that this is “The Bowe Show”. Bowe isn’t here to help teach young WR’s to help develop or mentor them. Had he done so maybe Bowe doesn’t get the huge contract he just received because Baldwin has blossomed. Even now Bowe has no desire to take young talent under his wing to better the team. Bowe feels that bettering the team on individual stats is enough. Bowe is a good WR, but he is also selfish in that regard. Bowe will also never be a leader because of this. IF Baldwin wants to be successful in this league he needs to look to another vet WR that has made it in the NFL, and needs to work with them through the off season. He has talent theres no denying that. He also has the desire to become great. He just needs a fellow NFL player to show him the way. I too have seen him wide open in the deep middle of the field, but I also know that he was the 4th or 5th read unless he had the ball forced to him. I am willing to bet that if he beats out Avery; Alex Smith is the QB that can find him. Smith goes through progressions quick and hits the open man. I think all Baldwin needs is a 5 or 6 catch 100yrd game with a TD to break out. He needs to get some confidence. He will be fine

          • superman_25_58

            How do you know Bowe isn’t going to be a mentor? How is Bowe selfish? After all the ass clowns behind center in the last few years and still coming up with multiple 1000+ yard seasons I would want to get paid wouldn’t you? Bowe has gotten the money he has been looking for, a QB that is accurate and smart, and is locked up for another 5 years so what’s it matter to him now? HE GOT HIS. He has already said in interviews that he has been or will be working with Baldwin to teach him the in and outs of being a big WR.

          • mg2098

            Saying is one thing and doing is another. I have yet to see Bowe act like say a Larry Fitzgerald. Fitz noticeably takes his teammates under his wing to improve the team as a whole. I watch every game. Read every new article. Read every twitter feed on the Chiefs. Die hard Chiefs fan right here. I have yet to see any desire on Bowes part to help Baldwin out. Bowe’s nicknames himself “The Show”. That speaks volumes right there. He’s also the same guy that points to the back of his jersey after scoring a TD while the Chiefs are loosing by 3 TD’s in garbage time. Your right Bowe has got his money, but at the same time he wants to leave his legacy. He has no desire to teach a guy who is more physically gifted talent to take that away from him. Baldwin is bigger, faster, and stronger than Bowe. I also believe Baldwin has better hands. He finds a way to consistently get open and the sky the limit for that kid. Bowe becomes an after though and he knows it. Bowe is good…not great.

      • KCMikeG

        Bowe is going to explode this year with a QB that can get him the ball on the move. The 3rd year is the make or break one for WR’s so let’s see if we can’t find some of that play from camp last year on the field on Sunday. If Moeaki, Wylie & Avery are healthy and Baldwin develops – Watch out!

        • kcs own

          WELL SAID!

    • superman_25_58

      He hasn’t had a decent NFL WR there to teach him the Technique’s that a BIG physical WR needs to know to better his skills/craft. Yes I know coaches do the coaching but the rookie players learn the little things from the veterans who have been in the league in which will ultimately make the younger WR’s better IMO. JB is going into his 3rd year and this is the first offseason Bowe will be attending in that period. I’m willing to bet that we see a new JB this year since he actually gets to learn from one of the best BIG Physical WR’s in the game in Duane Bowe.

      • Stacy D. Smith

        I’m not confident that he’ll adapt his game as much as he needs to. I have never in my life seen a receiver of his stature get sealed off by smaller defenders so easily. Baldwin plays small. If he’s not open, he’s out of the play. If you bump him, he’s finished. Right now he looks like a below-average possession receiver.

        • http://twitter.com/Hhestell Howard

          Baldwin mentality needs to match his physical stature and start imposing himself on smaller defenders. If he can do that he will be okay. Right now I fell like, If Dexter was a CB he can get out there and jam him at the line.

      • antony555

        Bowe is one of the best wideouts in the league, and breston was very good when the ball was thrown his way in a way the recievers were not going to get killed by a strong safety are a linebacker. Now if Alex can put the ball in their hands without breaking stride, means yards after catch and not being carted off the field. Baldwin if he works like a man pocessed he should score more than five touchdowns in 16 games and hopefully the playoffs.

        • superman_25_58

          I agree

      • kcs own

        SURE HOPE YOU ARE RIGHT BRO

    • P Heitman

      I agree. But you can hang some of them on QB play…http://www.arrowheadpride.com/2012/11/30/3708594/gifd-up-jon-baldwin-is-open

      • Stacy D. Smith

        I condeded that already.
        S/N: God he runs ugly routes.

        • P Heitman

          Haha I know, right? Like he’s pushing an invisible shopping cart in front of him.

          • micah stephenson

            Lmao! Ha ha ha

          • kcs own

            LOL

    • kcs own

      if he only played with dueces HEART!!!!

  • disqus_Mwtx38yVFA

    He is extremely talented! How many times was he targeted? Just throw the damn ball to him!

    • http://www.arrowheadaddict.com Patrick Allen

      You have to get open first. I don’t want the Qbs throwing him the ball just to do it.

      • Calchiefsfan

        I think it’s going to take Alex Smith half a season before we start to see him get in sinc with everyone. When that happens I’m hopeful that we’ll see both Baldwin and McCluster blossom.

        • Stacy D. Smith

          I have a feeling he’s going to get cozy with McCluster early in the season.

          • Calchiefsfan

            I hope so. That could be a very dangerous combination. McCluster does have a way of getting open. If A. Smith can put the ball in the right spot, watch out!

          • Stacy D. Smith

            That’s one thing Chiefs Kingdom will love about Alex Smith. He generally has above-average ball placement. McCluster can be very dangerous when hit in stride. Our screen game should be effective this year.

          • Calchiefsfan

            Can’t wait. Finally an offense.

        • KCMikeG

          Reid will have McCluster carrying the ball too! I’m excited for him this year. My prediction – Surprise of the year with 1,600 combined yards at RB/WR/KR.

      • Stacy D. Smith

        Hard to get open when you can’t get off the jam.

  • P Heitman

    Sylvester Morris.

  • redchiefs

    No, not yet. We have to remember how horrible the pass blocking has been. Baldwin has struggled against press coverage, but I doubt he wasn’t open some of those times when our QBs were getting hammered or running around like a headless chicken. Baldwin has a great opportunity in this system that Andy Reid runs. I’m sure he’s had a long conversation from both Dorsey and Reid regarding his future with the Chiefs AND the opportunities he has right here if he can improve. Let’s let this play out another year.

    • Calchiefsfan

      Agreed. With an improved o line, an upgrade in QB and a good, offensive minded coach he should show marked improvement this year. If he doesn’t then we can start to talk bust.

  • scomstock55

    he is not a bust….his quarterbacks have been absolutely terrible….not to mention that they all locked in on Bowe…he will be fine with a good QB

    • http://www.facebook.com/dan.burden.7161 Dan Burden

      an astute comment—but he needs to show us something this year!

  • scomstock55

    catches vs targets…thats what to look at…and I mean viable targets….not frikkin squibblers that came from a QB running for his life

  • scomstock55

    and another thing…how many drops vs actually good opportunities?

  • redchiefs

    We have to remember that Bowe couldn’t catch a ball that hit him in the hands the first couple years. I know we don’t have the “receiver whisperer” here anymore, but I’m sure both R&D have let him in on their expectations, if he wants to make the club.

    • Stacy D. Smith

      Bowe was 5 yards from a 1,000-yard season his rookie year.

    • Calchiefsfan

      Bowe had one of the best rookie years for a receiver in the NFL and had over 1,000 yards his second season.

    • Jim Harper

      Not true

    • redchiefs

      Alright, Calchiefsfan and Stacy are both correct, Bowe had a lot of receiving yards in his first season, he’s still dropped a lot of balls that hit him in the hands at crucial times until last year. Last year he had a truly great season, I don’t recall any drops, none at crucial times at least.

  • Shawn Duce

    Save the excuses,he needs to produce. Plenty of WR’s have solid numbers with sub par QB’s (see Fitzgerald,Larry). The lights just might be to bright on Sundays for Mr. Baldwin

    • superman_25_58

      Larry Fitzgerald is the #1 WR for the Cards, just like Bowe is Chiefs #1 WR right? We all know that the #1 WRs are going to get theirs no matter what bc these particular QB’s locked onto the #1 WR 90% of the time and also that is why they are the #1 WR’s bc they get shit done IMO. So how did Arizona’s #2 WR do with Kolb and Skelton this year? Let me tell you…..in 2012 season, Michael Floyd was drafted in the 1st round at pick 13, Floyd had (16 games played) 45 receptions with 562 yards and 2 TD. In 2012 season, (15 games played) Baldwin had 20 receptions for 325 yds and 1 TD. Key here is Floyd had Fitzgerald to guide and mentor him in his first year when Baldwin hasn’t had his #1 to learn from yet in his first 2 years(This year is different and good things are coming!). I seen plenty of times this year, where Baldwin had his man beat and was running in space and the Suckatude QB’s that plagued this team never even looked his direction it seemed like. When they finally did throw the ball his way, it seemed like they would try to force the throw to him in coverage and they just threw the ball up expecting him to come down with it in coverage every time. Baldwin has also had multiple coaching circuses in his 2 years in the NFL. Hard to be productive with all this Mayhem as well as these QB’s no matter what anyone says IMO. IT’S NOT AN EXCUSE, JUST THE TRUTH!!!! Baldwin will get his chance to work one on one with D Bowe to get better this offseason and I believe he will flourish in Reids system. The best part about the whole situation is……….. No more big coaching changes in at least the next 4-5 years which means offensive system will be the same and consistent since Reid is the HC and will also be calling the offensive plays. IMO I believe we will see all our WR’s/TE’s production go up this season as long as A Smith can keep playing on the same level he has been in his last 2 years with the 49ers. Here is to getting better one step at a time. Go Chiefs!

  • Travis Forsyth

    is Baldwin a bust? No. is Baldwin a question mark? Yes. the guy played half a year in 2011 and he had a shitty QB no, make that TWO shitty QBs in 2012, give him 2013 and possibly 2014 before y’all decide what to do with him…

  • thabear04

    He always look great in Camp then come game time he a no show. Maybe he should keep those long late night runs and focus on catching the ball too.

  • chiefdeorty

    I hope Baldwin has a good season, that means the Chiefs are having a one also. We all know Bowe is going to get his catches and the tight ends play a big part I guess in a Andy Reid offense. Reid talks about McCluster also and we can’t forget Charles so if Baldwin has a good season then the team should be doing great which is what I expect So lets hope he has that break out year that a #1 pick should have.

  • Guest

    He should find a new home. I had him on my fantasy team last year. I dropped him, he’s not productive or consistant.

  • Jim Harper

    I agree that this is make it or bust this year. I think he will have to have an amazing camp to even beat out Avery. I hope he does because he has the size and talent to be another Plaxico in his prime (before he shot himself)

  • tm1946

    First, just how bad was the Pioli era? One of the worst in the entire history of the NFL? No clue of how to operate a franchise but worry about candy wrappers, oh well.
    Second, the Chiefs have a history of wasted draft picks, seemingly forever. For every DT there have been 3 Joswiaks (sp).
    Lastly Baldwin, unless he has learned to run patterns during this off season, he is probably a bust. Also a bit of speed off the line would help – he is a loper when the ball is snapped, any DB can stay with him.
    If we had two other options excluding Bowe, he could find a place on the roster as the guy you throw to in the end zone and have to outjump the defender. That is about it.

  • kcs own

    yeah baldwin as some legit reasons for his production so far. but there will be no excuses after this year, cause smith can throw it and he is accurate