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Why Kansas City Chiefs Selection Of Jonathan Baldwin Was Perfect Choice

Baldwin landed in exactly the spot to make him the most successful as an NFL receiver.

Everyone saw the need. No one saw the solution.

The Kansas City Chiefs selection of Pittsburgh wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin in the first round of April's NFL Draft took most fans and sportswriters by surprise simply because most mock drafts had the Chiefs addressing a different need with the No. 21 overall pick. Whether it was a right tackle (Gabe Carimi?) or outside linebacker (Akeem Ayers?), the Chiefs obviously needed another option at wideout besides Dwayne Bowe to counter the stout run defenses the Chiefs faced in late season losses to the Raiders and Ravens. Most just didn't believe there was one worth taking at such a draft position.

First came the trade down with the Cleveland Browns, which, in turn, led to a draft card with Baldwin's name written upon it. Suddenly, the Chiefs had their answer at a draft position that made sense as a value to match the need. And with some perspective to sit with the idea, as well as see the overall draft class, it's easy to see why Jonathan Baldwin was the perfect first round choice for the Chiefs.

1. Working with Todd Haley

The offensive experience and reputation of Chiefs head coach Todd Haley with wide receivers has already been covered both here and most recently by Adam Teicher in a great article at the Star. But it warrants a mention in a list like this that Haley's work in transforming both Larry Fitzgerald and Dwayne Bowe into Pro Bowl receivers serves Baldwin well. It's the disciplinarian meeting the undisciplined. The grindstone meeting the diva. And while both stereotypes are probably unfair in their ultimate assessment and blanket statements, there's enough truth there to make the match obvious.

The reality is that Baldwin would do well to realize the reputation that precedes him and follow Haley's instruction to the letter of the law, not only to right the PR ship attached to his name but to ultimately make him into the best receiver he can be. You'd better believe if Scott Pioli invested a first-round selection on Baldwin, it wasn't for him to serve as a sidenote to the offense. Eventually, Baldwin can shine as an elite receiver in a Kansas City uniform and that will only come when and if he's willing to put in the work.

2. Low Pressure Situation

As great as Dwayne Bowe's numbers were last season (his 15 touchdown receptions led all wide receivers in the NFL), this offense revolves around the KC running game and specifically Jamaal Charles' other-worldly abilities. Thomas Jones provides another grind-it-out runner to partner with Charles and rookie tight end Tony Moeaki even claimed his own percent of the offense last year as a surprisingly sure-handed receiver. Simply put, the Chiefs have offensive options. (Note: this doesn't even include last year's second round choice, Dexter McCluster, who has as much offensive potential as anyone).

Enter Jonathan Baldwin. Unlike many first-round rookies, the spotlight won't be on Baldwin in any major way. He can take time to learn the offense and develop his work habits instead of being thrown to the wolves. The Chiefs can utilize his talents in niche match-ups rather than place the burden of the passing game on his shoulders. In the process, Baldwin can grow and develop naturally and trust Haley's process to mature into the top flight receiver he was drafted to become.

3. Ideal Offensive Fit

As the vertical threat opposite Bowe's cut routes, quarterback Matt Cassel now has the ability to look over the top to an ideal physical specimen with the size, agility and strength to outman most secondary personnel one-on-one. With the double coverage Bowe faced last year, the Chiefs lone receiving option was taken out with no other option, and teams could simply stack the box with the rest of their defensive personnel. Baldwin gives the Chiefs a reprieve from both scenarios and opens up the field for every offensive skill position.

If Baldwin goes with the team flow and arrives as good as advertised, the Chiefs are a much better offensive team than they were last season. Fans have longed for a dynamic receiving threat opposite Bowe for some time, but the cost or risk or timing in acquiring players via trade like Santonio Holmes or Anquan Boldin just haven't worked to this point. Jonathan Baldwin finally fills that role as the ideal pick that didn't seem so ideal at first glance.