SAINT JOSEPH, MO - JULY 31: Wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin #89 practices during Kansas City Chiefs Training Camp on July 31, 2011 in Saint Joseph, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jon Baldwin's career as a Kansas City Chief starts this Friday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Kansas City Chiefs selected a 6'4 228lb wide receiver from the University of Pittsburgh with the 26th overall pick in the 2011 draft. Jon Baldwin was the surprise pick for the Chiefs on draft day after sliding back a few spots in a trade with Cleveland. The Browns went ahead and drafted the player that many thought the Chiefs would take in Baylor nose tackle Phil Taylor.
Jon Baldwin's career has started off the right way in Kansas City. There were some character questions that were associated with him before the draft and some fans even took the wait-and-see approach in regards to Baldwin's personality. But he's done everything that has been asked of him so far and was even described as a good roommate by quarterback, Matt Cassel, who housed Baldwin for a few days during some player-run practices before the lockout was lifted.
Head coach Todd Haley has a history of getting the most out of his wide receivers and Baldwin looks to be in the mold of players that Haley wants to develop. He has the raw physical tools to be a flat-out dominant player in this game but his coachability will be what determines how good he can become.
The pre-season is just as important to Baldwin as an individual player trying to establish his game as it is to the Chiefs, who want to establish that Baldwin has that big-play ability and defenses must respect it. The fact is that the Chiefs are a run-first team and that won't change with the addition of Baldwin and Steve Breaston. Their bread and butter is the run and everyone already knows that. But the Chiefs opponents know that too. In order for the Chiefs to continue to be able to run the ball effectively the defense has to respect the pass, and they will respect the pass when Baldwin goes out in the preseason and shows he is a reliable weapon to go along with Dwayne Bowe, Tony Moeaki, Jamaal Charles and Dexter McCluster.
It just takes one or two big plays in the preseason to get that information on scouting reports for teams that are game-planning against the Chiefs offense. If they feel as if they need to give cornerbacks help on the deep ball because leaving a guy all alone on Baldwin creates a problem for the defense then the preseason was a success for Baldwin. The Chiefs are still going to run the ball, but it becomes much easier when safeties aren't stacking the box. There should be quite a few plays this preseason that give Baldwin a chance to go up and make a play on a deep ball. Especially on a play-action pass in which safeties will need to realize that biting on a play-fake could lead to a big play from Baldwin and/or Bowe.
Baldwin also gives the Chiefs another red-zone target for Matt Cassel who might just need to throw it in Baldwin's zip code and have him go up and make a play. At 6'4 228lbs he is a physical mismatch for any cornerback in the league. If he can develop his game to mirror his physical attributes, the Chiefs have a gem on their hands and it should be fun to watch this season.