This is the moment where the Chiefs shocked their fan base and took the one guy that most of AP was completely against. Very rarely did we see a mock draft fly in a positive fashion when we had Baldwin pegged with our number one draft pick. Phil Taylor, Akeem Ayers, and the numerous tackles were all popular picks.
We here at AP crucified the mock drafts that had us taking Baldwin because he wasn't part of "the right 53". We stressed how important Scott Pioli, our savior, our mob boss, our executive of the year winner, valued honesty, integrity,and loyalty over talent and wasted charisma.
So when Mr. Johnathan Baldwin was drafted in the first round by the Kansas City Chiefs, there was a brief pause filled with shock. We all knew that the second wide receiver position was wide open. Most of us didn't envision going reciever in the first round though, especially one that had the term "diva" written all over him.
Take a look through the comments. A lot of negativity here. And I can't really blame anyone for being disgruntled about the draft pick. We needed a nose tackle, we needed a right tackle, yeah yeah yeah, whatever, I'm not talking about that. In 2009, Baldwin was arrested for "allegedly" groping a female student. He was charged with misdemeanor indecent assault, harassment and disorderly conduct. The charges were eventually dropped, but none the less, not exactly a good look for an NFL prospect.
And what about when he threw his quarterback and head coach completely under the bus:
"Heck yeah I’m leaving. It can only get worse. They had me running a lot of deep routes [this year] and yards were hard to come by. I barely ran intermediate routes; it felt like they were purposely trying to disrupt my draft stock."
Yep. And we all know that Matt Cassel isn't exactly the most consistent quarterback in the NFL. But that's a discussion for another day, another thread (Please don't pull a Baldwin and call the bus driver into this fan post).
It seems though, after draft day, Johnathan Baldwin began to turn his persona around. He attended the Larry Fitzgerald camp and had been working out with one of the top two corner backs in the league in Darrelle Revis. Former wide recievers Michael Irvin and Cris Carter were brought in to help with some constructive criticism. The Chiefs current number one reciever, Dwayne Bowe, had attended this camp last offseason and lo and behold: He led the league in touchdowns and had the best year of his career.
Johnathan Baldwin also formed a chemistry with his probowl quarterback Matt Cassel. Not only on the field, but in the bedroom as well. Shortly after being drafted he flew into Kansas City and stayed with the offensive field general, learning the playbook and trying the best BBQ in the world. In addition to that, he was also active in the player only workouts during this terrible lockout season.
And let's not forget about the tornados that tore Joplin apart. Yeah, the Chiefs donated money and water bottles, but the first two people on scene? Quarterback Matt Cassel and ROOKIE wide reciever Johnathan Baldwin. Someone that was part of the Chiefs community for only a short amount of time, yet was one of the quickest people to lend a helping hand. Was it a good PR move? Course. But none the less, it was still more than most of us sitting here reading did.
So far in camp we've heard positive things. He's made some nice plays. Worked mainly with the threes and fours. He wasn't seen near the field during the Bucs game when the first team offense was out there, but his head coach is a guy that kept half of his starters buried on the depth chart until the season opener. We've all heard about his problem about beating the press, but if that's one of the only problems thus far in his game, that really isn't so bad is it? I mean he's not James Davis, who walks out on his team before the season even starts. Or Chris Johnson, who's holding out and isn't even present to welcome in the new coaching staff before the season begins.
All in all, most of us have believed in Pioli and Haley since they were first brought to Kansas City. The first season we all shared our doubts. Throughout the offseasons we've been slightly irritated about re-signing our own impact players before signing a big name out of house. We've debated Todd Haley's clock management and play calling from day one, and that isn't going to change anytime soon. None the less, looking at our Golden Boy's approval ratings, they seem to be pretty high. High enough for us to believe in them to do their jobs diligintly.
Let's take a look at a few quotes from our head coach about our "troubled" reciever:
"I feel really good about Jonathan," Haley continued. "Our scouts and everybody really felt good about this pick. We're getting a guy that, number one, has a great deal of ability, and number two, in an area where we need continued improvement and competition. To get him where we got him, and to be able to gain a pick in the process to use later on down the road, I'm really excited."
"You got a chance to be great now.There have been a few others that have played that position that have been alright. We are excited to make you a Kansas City Chief."
"It will make us harder to defend, hopefully. The name of the game is matchups and this hopefully will create some good matchups for us. It should make Dwayne Bowe better. It should make (quarterback) Matt Cassel better, it should make (tight end) Tony Moeaki better and it should make the running game better. That's the plan. Let's see if Jon can come in and do what we think he can do."
From Scott Pioli on draft day:
"You look at the full body of work. You have to rely on people and resources. We vetted this player and many other players that had situations in their past.
“You spend time with the player; you spend time with individuals you have relationships with, good relationships with, trusting relationships, and you talk to a lot of people. We talked to a lot of people on this, and we feel very confident.”
If that isn't enough, check out this conversation over the phone with Pioli, and owner Clark Hunt:
Hey Jonathan, it's Scott Pioli.
You remember what we talked about right?
You excited about this?
Hey Jonathan, how are you? Are you excited to be a Chief?
We're very excited to have you part of the team. I look forward to the opportunity to meet you.
Sounds to me like Pioli already addressed Baldwin's attitude and other alleged issues with him before even drafting him. Again, diligent work done by the Chiefs brass.
Today a report surfaced that our rookie wide reciever was going to miss the rest of the preseason due to an injury in his wrist. The injury was not football related, but due to a scuffle that broke out in the locker room with runningback Thomas Jones. As the day progressed more and more rumors leaked out, and though we don't know the full details, we can tell this much: There was a heated exchange with Baldwin and Jamaal Charles the day before, which seemingly carried over into the locker room the next day. Jones, one of Charles' closest friends on the team, somehow became apart of it. Again, we don't know what happened, and we probably never will.
Thomas Jones is considered a class act, a savvy veteran that is on his last few snaps. He provides leadership to the younger players, and can still provide a spark on the field. Many people forget however, that he's also been involved in altercations in the past with previous teammates. When he was with the Bears he reportedly punched teammate and fellow runningback Cedric Benson in the head. Before a playoff game with the Jets, he also reportedly beat up Kerry Rhodes, a defensive back, before being pulled off of him.
Neither one of these guys have clean records, and it's harsh to take sides so soon, when so little details are known.
While I know you didn't ask for my opinion, you're going to get it. Mainly because you're still reading this post. Johnathan Baldwin is 22 years old. That's a year and a half older than myself. Although we probably don't have many things in common, there's something that really stuck out to me: We're both working our tails off to get into Arrowhead stadium for the first time. Yeah, he's probably a bit arrogant. Yeah, he's probably got a chip on his shoulder that he fell to the bottom of the first round. Yeah, he probably does hate the direction that his college team went. But most professional athletes fit those characteristics.
Bottom line is, he's a kid that's had a lot on his plate over the last few years. He hasn't been involved in any gang or drug activity. He's made some inappropriate and rash decisions, but that doesn't make him a terrible person. He isn't a bust just yet. I know that some of the parents reading this right now would use this as a coaching situation, and I'm sure that's exactly what our staff is going to do. We don't know what happened with Thomas Jones or Jamaal Charles. We just know that since he's been drafted into our family, he's been doing everything right. Hold off on judgement until Coach Haley is finished with him. We all saw what he did what Dwayne Bowe.
And if I'm too young and naive to see that Baldwin is just a pure trouble maker, well then I guess I just wasted your time. I'll end this post with a quote by our current head coach, the diva killer, Todd Haley:
"Once they realize they're no longer allowed to act like a diva, then we work well together."