When the Kansas City Chiefs selected Jonathan Baldwin in 2011 with the 26th overall pick in the draft, they were sure they had snatched up a top tier receiver. Now, after two rather disappointing seasons, there are some folks around Kansas City who are ready to staple the “BUST” tag to his shirt and send him packing.
A product of the University of Pittsburgh, Jonathan Baldwin played his freshman year in 2008. He started three of 13 games, recording 18 receptions for 404 yards and three touchdowns. Due to his decent productivity his freshman year, expectations for his sophomore year were relatively high. In 2009, Baldwin recorded 54 receptions for 1,080 yards and eight touchdowns all in the regular season. During the conference championship game that same year against Cincinnati, he managed six receptions for 113 yards and two touchdowns. Cincinnati would end up winning the game by one point but Baldwin was clearly establishing himself as a play-maker. In 2010, he was ranked as the No. 3 college wide receiver in the nation and in only 13 games recorded 55 receptions for 822 yards and five touchdowns.
Kansas City selected him in the first round in 2011. The expectation was that he would fill the No. 2 receiver slot behind Dwayne Bowe. However, in week two of the 2011 pre-season, Baldwin got into a locker room fight with teammate Thomas Jones, injuring his wrist in the process. The injury would sideline Baldwin for the remainder of the pre-season. During the 2011 regular season, Baldwin recorded only 254 total yards and one touchdown.
We all know what a major disaster the Kansas City Chiefs 2012 campaign turned out to be. Let’s briefly touch on Baldwins stats during the season. In 2012, Jonathan Baldwin recorded 20 receptions for 325 yards and one touchdown.
What do you think? Is he a bust?
Allow me to voice my opinion on the topic.
Any time you have a wide receiver who is stellar at his position and when given the opportunity to get the ball in his hands, can make plays , games can be won. The key there is, getting the ball in his hands. Now I know Baldwin had his 300+ yards this past season but come on, when one guy is totaling 300 yards receiving all year and others are breaking 1200-1500 yards, what does that tell you?
It may tell us both different things, but what it tells me is, either the player needs to work on his route running (yes, Baldwin can improve there) or the guy has a quarterback under center who cannot get him the ball. I firmly believe Baldwins lack of production on the field is because of issue number two. Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn are not Eli Manning or Tom Brady. If you take a look at the successful quarterbacks or wide receivers in the league, the majority of the better players have a good player in the other position to compliment them. For example, in 2011 for the Denver Broncos, Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker were nothing more than bodies filling positions. You throw in Peyton Manning as the guy under center in 2012 and they both become immediate threats. Let’s look at Eli Manning and the New York Giants. Do you really think Victor Cruz would be the player he is without a top notch quarterback such as Eli Manning to get him the ball? Put Cassel or Quinn in as quarterback for the Giants and see how Cruz does. C’mon now. What about Randall Cobb? Many thought the Green Bay Packers taking Randall Cobb was a joke, but they paired him with Aaron Rodgers and the guy is an instant play-maker.
In my honest opinion, in order for Jonathan Baldwin to become the kind of consistent threat that he was in college for the Chiefs, Andy Reid and company have got to get a competent and accurate quarterback to throw him the ball. I don’t think it’s fair to label him a bust just yet strictly because of the string of bad quarterbacks he’s had to play with. Now, does Baldwin have improvements to make? Absolutely, every player needs improvement, but as far as his total lack of production on the field, I immediately look at the signal caller position.
I think if the Chiefs can bring in a trusted quarterback who can consistently play at a level higher than their previous QB’s (that shouldn’t be hard, right?), then I firmly believe Baldwin will emerge as the player they thought they were getting when they drafted him in the first place. What the future holds for Jonathan Baldwin in Kansas City, only Chiefs’ brass knows. However, I say give him a chance with a legitimate quarterback and see how he does. If he still fails to produce, then I know a long list of people who have their “BUST” tags and staplers at the ready.
Follow Brandon on Twitter @06moffet
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