The Kansas City Chiefs surprised more than a few folks using their first round pick in the 2011 NFL draft on Pittsburgh WR Jonathan Baldwin. A receiver in the first round didn't seem to be GM Scott Pioli's style -- what is his style, anyway? -- but there the Chiefs were picking up the wideout with the 26th pick in the draft.
As the first round pick, Baldwin becomes the face of the Chiefs 2011 draft class and will receive by far the most attention. So let's see where he fits.
There's no denying Baldwin has the physical skills to be a solid if not great receiver in the NFL. If you're creating a receiver, 6'5'' and 220 pounds is where I would start. Of course, there's more to being a receiver than just the physical skills. Chiefs head coach Todd Haley will want to mold Baldwin into the receiver he wants to see and, if Haley's past is any indication, there is some tough love ahead for Baldwin.
As others have suggested, it's very possible that Baldwin has some trouble cracking the lineup a whole lot early on. Receivers in general have some trouble making an immediate impact and I think Haley takes a similar approach to Baldwin as he did WR Dwayne Bowe last year. Bowe didn't see much time in the preseason and was in Haley's doghouse for not doing things the way he wants them done but ultimately things turned out OK for Bowe. So I think Haley would be wise to employ a similar approach depending of course on the circumstances.
Regardless of what kind of shape Baldwin comes into Chiefs camp (whenever that starts), Haley will set a high standard, and knock Baldwin down a peg or two in order to build him back up the way he wants.
The only problem with giving Baldwin some time to ease into the pro game is that they need him to play.
Like right now.
WR Kevin Curtis was signed late in the season and WR Chris Chambers may or may not be back. WR Terrance Copper isn't a No. 2 receiver nor is WR Quinten Lawrence. Maybe WR Verran Tucker gets a shot, or perhaps WR Jeremy Horne.
So while I want to predict that Baldwin slowly acclimates himself into the pro game and understands the nuances of the NFL, the Chiefs may not have that luxury. I would really prefer to see Baldwin avoid being throw into the fire but that may be one of the few choices the Chiefs have.
So, with that, I will predict that Baldwin is lined up opposite of Bowe on day one.