Jonathan Baldwin is a physically gifted receiver with a rare combination of height, weight, and speed. Despite elite physical tools, he is very raw and unpolished. He figures to be a project at split-end that could take two to three years to really grasp the finer points of the game. His college career was plagued by inconsistency at the Quarterback position and immaturity on Baldwin’s part. There is reason to believe that he may never figure it out. He may possess this class’ best triangle numbers at the position, but it is likely he falls somewhere between the middle of the second round and the late third.
The number one area in which Baldwin must improve at the next level is his route-running. Right now, he appears very raw and lacks variety as a route runner. He, too often, rounds off routes and is not very sudden when he has to make a move toward the middle of the field or the sideline. It appears he plays too tall and is tight at the hips, lacking the quickness and fluidity to separate underneath. Due to this, he was used primarily as a vertical threat in college. He is a long-strider, fast enough to create separation deep and is strong enough to come down with contested balls. Additionally, he has the strength to beat the jam with his hands.
Baldwin possesses big (10 1/8”) hands which often show a great deal of strength, but he must improve his reliability. He shows good concentration in jump-ball situations, flashing the ability to shield defenders and high-point the ball. His catching radius is extremely wide and he can make plays on the ball that not many can. Still, he must improve his consistency. Too often on short to intermediate routes, he lets the ball get into his body.
After the Catch
Due to immense size and very good strength, Baldwin can be a load to bring down after the catch. He may be a bit straight-linish and not overly elusive, but he is able to pick up yards due to his impressive running power. His speed for his size is terrific, but he rarely gets the chance to flash it in the open field due to average explosiveness and burst. However, he is a size mismatch for most defensive backs and is very tough to take to the ground.
No quality is as evident as Jonathan Baldwin’s rare athleticism for his size. As a former basketball player, he displays excellent leaping ability and vertical explosiveness. For the amount of mass he is carrying, he seems to have very good body control. He is a complete and utter mismatch in jump-ball situations on any level. A lack of suddenness and agility could prevent him from making his mark in the NFL in anything but the red-zone.
On paper, Baldwin appears to have elite potential as a blocking receiver. He has excellent functional strength, long arms, and is very competitive. Despite upside, he must improve effort and attention to detail as a blocker. He does not appear to be overly enthusiastic in this area of the game, but run-heavy teams could still take a chance on him developing at the next level.
Jonathan Baldwin is quite clearly an NFL split-end, or “X”, fitting best in a vertical offense. His lack of polish as a route-runner really limits his scheme versatility. Additionally, he didn’t show the work ethic or innate feel for the game to project him at any spot other than his collegiate comfort zone. He appears to fit the Vincent Jackson mold and would be a perfect fit in an offense such as San Diego or Minnesota’s.
Size, Speed, Strength & Agility
You would be hard pressed to find a receiver in this draft class with better triangle numbers than Baldwin (6’4 224 4.50.) He is very big and strong, while also possessing great speed for his size. His basketball background has helped him to develop elite leaping ability and good coordination. At Pittsburgh, he made big plays with a career average of 18.3 yards per catch. Despite a lack of agility and fluidity, he still has the physical tools that NFL teams covet.
The sky is the limit for Jonathan Baldwin provided he can figure it out at the next level. He has the potential to be a legitimate #1 target as an explosive downfield threat and red-zone target. Don’t expect an instantaneous return on investment, however, as he has a lot to learn and may be a couple years away. If he does not take the game more seriously or buy into the NFL coaching he receives, his bust potential is undeniable. He was obviously held back at Pitt by the Quarterback play he received this year and if he went to another school there is a chance he could have been a much more highly-sought-after prospect. He fits the definition of a boom-or-bust player.
Father, Jeffery Baldwin, was a fromer Pitt defensive lineman from 1981-1984. His cousin, Charles Fisher, was a defensive back at West Virginia in the 1990s and had a stint in the NFL. Coming out of high school, Baldwin was a heralded recruit in both football and basketball. In addition to those two sports, he also ran track at Aliquippa (Pa.)
If Jon Baldwin were a model character, he would likely be a first round lock. Many, however, have described him as immature. His inability to improve in certain areas over his college career may either point to a questionable work ethic or a steep learning curve. The fear is that he may never get it at the next level. He appears egotistical and overly confident in his abilities. Upon leaving the program after his junior season, he bashed Quarterback Tino Sunseri and the Panthers’ coaching staff for his lack of growth as a player. In implying his teammates and coaches sabotaged his draft stock, it is obvious that he needs to learn to watch what he says to the media. In 2009, Baldwin was charged with disorderly conduct and harassment; but those charges did not hold up. Perhaps he was justifiably unhappy with his situation at Pitt, but he has shown diva tendencies and attitude problems far too early in his career. Durability does not seem to be much of a concern for him as he has not suffered a serious injury to this day.
2010: 13 games/13 starts -53 rec 822 yds 15.5 ypc 5 Td
2009: 13 games/12 starts -57 rec 1,111 yds 19.5 ypc 8 Td
2008: 13 games/3 starts – 18 rec 404 yds 22.4 ypc 3 Td
Was enrolled in the School of Arts and Sciences. On the Big East All-Academic football team in 2009.
Awards & Honors
2010: First team All-Big East.
2009: First Team All-Big East, Rivals All-American (third team)
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