The selection of Jonathon Baldwin with the Chiefs first round pick came as a suprise to me as well as many other chiefs fans. That being said, I really like the selection the more and more I think about it. However, many critics label the selection as a "reach" and are quick to point out Baldwin's flaws. After the jump I will explain why Baldwin is indeed first round talent and not a reach at all.
1. First of all the biggest knock on Baldwin has been "character concerns". This itself has caused many teams to push Baldwin well down their draft boards. However, I believe this is where many people are wrong. In my opinion, the worst type of character concerns are when a player doesn't love the sport or is just showing up for a paycheck. This is NOT Baldwin, the kid loves the game and is extremely competitive. He wants to win and he wants to be great. He was stuck with the anemic Pitt offense where he was the only playmaker and had a horrible quarterback. It's like being paired up with 9 girls in gym class dodgeball in sixth grade. It gets frustrating being wide open and constantly being under or over thrown.
That being said, publicly bashing your coach and team is very uncalled for and will not be tolerated. The type of character concerns Baldwin has are much easier to correct than the type of concerns that....JaMarcus Russell has (Silly Raiders). That being said, Haley has a good history with WR's and there is no better team to help curb his behavior than the Chiefs.
2. One interesting calculation I have done ties in with Baldwin's ability to go vertical. Many of the combine measurables aren't representative of the NFL game and are quite misleading. For example, 40 yard dash times aren't always representative of a players "game speed" and the bench press doesn't take into account leverage or arm length and many other variables in assessing how strong a player actually is. However, a players vertical jump ability is pretty darn accurate. Here's a comparison I did with the first WR taken, A.J. Green.
Green- 6 ft 3.5 in Baldwin- 6 ft 4.5 in
Green- 34.5 in Baldwin- 42.0 inches
Green-34.29 in Baldwin-33.63 in
Green-9.199 in Baldwin-10.125 inches
So assuming both Baldwin and Green are standing side by side with there arm and hand fully extended upwards. Baldwin should be able to reach roughly 1.5 inches higher. Combine this with the fact that his vertical jump is 7.5 inches higher and Baldwin is able to catch a ball 9 inches higher than Green can. I know all of this math isn't completely representative and a few other variables need to be considered but its a pretty shocking stat. When it comes to going up for a jump ball or a high pass, Baldwin's ability has to be considered top in the draft.
3. Hands, Hands, Hands. The most important thing a receiver must have. Baldwin has HUGE dependable hands and plucks the football right out of the air. He hasn't shown a big tendency to drop any short passes (like Bowe) and is extremely consistent. He's such a big target for Cassel with his huge stature and arms. He also has a huge tendency for sensational catches. Whether it being diving or catching it one handed, Baldwin is very good at making sensational catches.
4. YAC ability. Baldwin is built from the same mold as Calvin Johnson and Andre Johnson. That big strong wide receiver that can both go around and over defensive backs. Baldwin also possesses an impressive stiff arm and good speed.
All in all I think Baldwin is a great prospect, 100% worthy of a first round selection. Not only will he improve the chiefs passing game immensely by taking the likes of Kevin Curtis and company off the field, but he will also improve the run game by taking defenders out of the box and he's an above average run blocker to boot. On a team like Oklahoma, Baldwin probably would of been a top 10 pick. We picked up a very talented player at a position of need and grabbed an extra 3rd rounder in the process. Not bad for day one huh?