Originally appeared on EndZoneNews.com
When the Kansas City Chiefs selected Jon Baldwin with the 26th pick of the 2011 NFL Draft, many-a jaw hit the floor. After a season where the wide receiver’s numbers were down at Pitt, Baldwin was predicted to fall somewhere in the middle of the second round.
There was something about Baldwin’s 6’4″ frame that made Kansas City swoop in and grab the Pitt Panther earlier than expected.
Just because Baldwin might have been considered a stretch by draft critics, does not mean he cannot can make immediate contributions to a growing Chiefs organization.
“I can’t really control what other people think about me, all I can do is keep my faith and just work as hard as I can,” Baldwin said, when I interviewed him last week.
Baldwin was a beast in the Big East, during his three-year tenure at Pitt. His size and physicality enabled him to overpower smaller defensive backs when playing “jump ball” on vertical routes. His 4.49-40-yard-dash at the NFL Combine showed he has speed to go with that big frame to get past quicker opponents.
During his three years as a Panther, Baldwin hauled in 128 receptions for 2,337 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Baldwin expects that his time at Pitt can help pay off at the next level.
“The biggest thing that translates and will help a lot is coming from a pro offense,” said Baldwin. “Learning the playbook is kind of easy because in the pro-style a lot of the terminology is the same.”
Baldwin is hoping that his translation into the league will be as smooth as his new teammate Dwayne Bowe’s was when he entered the league four years ago.
“Dwayne was a very successful player coming into this league,” Baldwin commented, of his teammate. “I’m going to try to get some advice to see some of the things he did when he was an up-and-coming player his rookie year.”
Much like Bowe, Baldwin will have his chance to shine in Coach Todd Haley’s fire-powered offense. Haley showed in Arizona that he loved to air it out to Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin. Now Bowe and Baldwin can be the dynamic duo that Haley and Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel need to be an offensive powerhouse in the league.
At Pitt, Baldwin was known as a “go-up-and-get-it” vertical threat. To be successful at the next level, he is willing to do anything.
“If that means going across the middle, running slants, running posts, running go routes, blocking; I’ll do it,” Baldwin said. “I’m going to do whatever they ask of me, I don’t care. I’ll do whatever the team needs.”
“I’m just going to try to contribute the most I can, and hopefully that will mean the Kansas City Chiefs winning ball games.”
Winning games and having a monster rookie season will help those critics forget the Chiefs reached a bit to grab him.
“The Kansas City Chiefs organization drafted me to help them the best way I can,” Baldwin concluded. “I’m just going to work hard like I always do. All I can do is bust my tail.”