Jonathan Baldwin is entering his third NFL season with the Kansas City Chiefs. Really.
Drafted in 2011 by the Scott Pioli regime, Baldwin was to line up opposite of Dwayne Bowe on game days to help the Chiefs in their humble passing game. However, his presence in the league has not been seen nor heard of other than in categories of distraction and bad news.
As a rookie, the 6’4″ wide receiver dazzled fans with his athleticism in training camp, but would go on to miss 5 games of 2011 after breaking his thumb in a fight with then teammate Thomas Jones. Baldwin’s 2012 campaign was to be a “breakout” season, judging from his pre-season form, leaving fans awe-struck with amazing one-handed grabs and (briefly) showing that his status was worthy of a first round selection. But when the real season began Jon started only six games with a mere 20 receptions for 325 yards and one touchdown for the year.
As one season ended and another began, Kansas City’s new coaching staff, anchored by head coach Andy Reid, was very aggressive this offseason with a very talented free agency class. Judging by the Chiefs 2012 roster and the unrestricted players available, the new regimes’ motives were clear: Create competition. Along with upgrades to the quarterback, defensive line and secondary positions, Kansas City brought in five-year veteran wide receiver Donnie Avery from the Indianapolis Colts. Last season Avery started 14 games and caught 60 passes for 781 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns. Clearly an upgrade over Baldwin’s performances.
Reid has not been thrilled by Baldwin’s efforts in practice thus far either, verbally scorching him for getting to the line of scrimmage too slowly. When talking about his receiver corps. this spring at the owner’s meetings, coach Reid stated, “Baldwin is kind of a tweener. He does have good long speed, not great long speed. He’s somebody that needs to continue to develop.”
Kansas City’s 2013 season is barely off the ground and already Jon Baldwin seems to be sliding down the depth chart. His actions in practice seem to indicate one step forward and two steps back. Despite the gravity defying catches in mini-camps and tweets of “Jonathan Baldwin’s Big Day” there is still a lot left for Baldwin to prove.
Next to last Chiefs practice is over. I hesitate to report this after what happened last yr but Baldwin had a big day, his best of offseason
— Adam Teicher (@adamteicher) June 5, 2013
The young receiver still has a tall mountain to climb, because his true test comes suited with full pads, rather than shorts and a helmet, and an opposition that wants him to “bust.” If the Chiefs are going to have a season like Indianapolis did last year then Baldwin is going to have to live up to his first round potential.
So what do you think, KC Kingdom: Will Baldwin finally have his breakout season?