Find out about the a potential second-round pick in this year's draft at the wide receiver position, Jonathan Baldwin. Promoted to front page by Chris P.
Jonathan Baldwin WR Pitt
Ht: 6' 5" Wt: 225 lbs 40: 4.4 sec
Season Team REC YDS AVG LNG TD
2008 Pittsburgh 18 404 22.4 60 3
2009 Pittsburgh 57 1111 19.5 79 8
2010 Pittsburgh 53 822 15.5 61 5
Totals 128 2337 18.3 79 16
A standout player from a size prospective, Baldwin presents an immediate problem for pass defenses. Sure to draw a double/triple team on most plays, he is used to catching the ball in traffic and his strength makes him able to rip the ball away from defenders. Great hands and concentration gives him ability to catch badly thrown balls which has been aptly demonstrated at Pitt where he hasn't had the best of quarterbacks. Difficult to bring down, he gets a lot of yards after the catch. Also an excellent blocker. Definitely No. 1 receiver potential.
Needs to improve route running. Decent speed but not elite speed. Not a great "cutter", can be a little sluggish on his breaks and off the line. This all translates to Baldwin having to catch the ball a lot while being covered--he is not often wide open because of a great move he made or just running past someone. In 2009, Baldwin was charged with disorderly conduct and harassment in which he was alleged to have "slapped a female nursing student on the behind." He was found not guilty at the trial but did admit to some wrong-doing and was disciplined by the team.
Looking at Baldwin's body type one might think him to be more of a down-field target and he can fill that role. But his great hands, focus and awareness make him an excellent possession receiver who will be a terror to defenses trying to cover him in the Browns' new west-coast offense. This guy can flat out catch the ball. I remember when Edwards was drafted there were Michigan fans who reported that "he catches the hard ones and drops the easy ones." This is not the case with Baldwin--he catches that hard ones AND the easy ones. Add to this his towering height and an ability to catch the ball at the apex and that translates to a better red-zone performance for the Browns. I don't see how opponents can hope to cover this guy in the corner of the end zone with a properly positioned throw. Also a great asset in the west coast is the ability to run after the catch and Baldwin has shown great ability to rack up yards after the catch. With his size and exceptional catching ability there is tremendous upside to this talented young wide receiver.
I see Baldwin as an excellent second round pick. I even think the Browns should consider trading a later pick (such as a 4th or 5th) to move up into the late 1st or early 2nd to get Baldwin should the need arise. I prefer to see the first pick this year used on a defensive lineman and I think the difference between Baldwin and any other wide receiver besides Green is insignificant.
On the other hand, wide receivers typically take a year or two to develop and the Browns need help at receiver right now. Free agency might be a better route to pick up a receiver if there is a proven, high-character player available. The character issue is also troubling with Baldwin but when the judge found him not guilty he actually scolded the prosecution for trying to make a bigger case of the incident than it was. If there was going to be a problem in this area I think it is good that he has already experienced what can happen and has hopefully learned a valuable lesson.
If you watch the second set of highlights you can see how he suffered with pretty bad quarterbacking last year. If the QB would have had the passes on the money he probably would have scored 4 TDs in this game against West Virginia. Baldwin had his coverage beat on several occasions only to have the ball overthrown or underthrown. Who knows what kind of stats he would have accumulated with a top QB throwing to him.