The wide receiver position is one of the most interesting positions on the Kansas City Chiefs roster to try to predict. In an ideal situation, the Chiefs are as stacked as most teams in the NFL. In a nightmare scenario, the whole thing could fall apart. A major component of the success of the wideout corps is the development of Jon Baldwin into a potential No. 1 receiver.
Dwayne Bowe is out, for now, away from OTAs since he's yet to sign the franchise tender and report to the Chiefs voluntary workouts. It's likely that the first sighting of Bowe in the offseason is going to be training camp one way or another. It's a remote possibility that Bowe is traded before the season starts, but given the state of the Chiefs offense, trading away the most predictable producer on the team makes little sense heading into 2012. In short, Bowe should be a Chief in 2012.
Bowe should anchor a corp that is complete. Jon Baldwin was the team's No. 1 draft choice in 2011, and the team hopes he develops into the vertical red zone target that he was projected to be coming out of Pitt. Combined with Steve Breaston, Dexter McCluster and Devon Wylie among receivers and Kevin Boss and Tony Moeaki among tight ends, the Chiefs have numerous targets for Matt Cassel. But the Chiefs will need impact, go-to receivers in crunch time, and that's where Baldwin can help the most.
"Every day you gotta build," said Baldwin from OTAs recently. "You watch a lot of film. I'm studying defenses to see what teams like to do, what kind of teams they are, how cornerbacks play, their linebackers, and what different zones and drops they do. Knowing all of those things is a little better than last year. With where OTAs are at, it's a big stepping stone and I'm looking forward to it."
Baldwin is going to need the time in camp after an abbreviated rookie season. He broke his wrist in an alleged locker room fight with veteran running back Thomas Jones, and didn't make his regular season debut until late October. The NFL also kept all rookies out of any workouts or sessions with coaches after last year's draft due to the 2011 NFL lockout. That means that Baldwin was far behind what the Chiefs would have hoped in his first season -- partly due to circumstances beyond his control.
It's not surprising, then, to hear Baldwin only talking about the little things when asked in interviews about the larger picture. When asked about Dwayne Bowe's absence in camp and whether or not that presented an opportunity, Baldwin took the veteran way out and refused to comment on anything but political talking points.
"Regardless [of Dwayne Bowe's absence], I'm going to continue to do the best that I can do. I don't know anything about that, so I'm just going to do what I have to do and keep helping this team the best that I possibly can."
The Chiefs are going to need Baldwin to take that step forward in year two to help the offense succeed and to show them what they have in house as they make decision on Bowe's future. Thus far, he's saying and doing the right things.
"It's building a stepping stone. You gotta get better every day. That's the main thing we want to do is continue to build up and get better every day."