Published April 29, 2011
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Kansas City Chiefs addressed one of their most urgent needs but may have strayed a bit from their draft philosophy by taking Pittsburgh wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin in the first round Thursday night.
The Chiefs' passing offense ranked 30th last year, partly because of a powerful running game that ranked No. 1. But after going 10-6 and winning their first AFC West title since 2003, they were crushed in their first playoff game by Baltimore, 30-7, and their top wide receiver, Dwayne Bowe, was shut out with not one single catch.
The 6-4, 230-pound Baldwin started 27 games for Pittsburgh the past three seasons, at both flanker and split end. He started 12 games at flanker last season and led the Panthers with 52 catches for 810 yards and five touchdowns.
The Chiefs hope he will pair nicely with Bowe, who had 1,162 yards receiving last year and went to his first Pro Bowl, and give them a pass-catching tandem to be feared.
"He's bigger than Dwayne but they're both big, strong guys that can run and hopefully they'll be doing a bunch of blocking and a bunch of running and a bunch of catching," said head coach Todd Haley.
Baldwin was the object of some controversy in 2009 when he was charged for disorderly conduct and harassment. The charges were dropped. But this is in contrast to last year's draft when six of the Chiefs' seven selections were team captains and known to be high-character young men.
"We spoke to Jonathan at length at the combine, a number of us," said Haley. "He was one of our 30 formal interviews. We feel like we've done our due diligence and we're very comfortable making him a Kansas City Chief."
Baldwin said he assured the Chiefs there would be no problems.
"I sat down with all the coaching staff and I just told them the kind of person I am and after they talked to me for about 5 minutes they understood I was a good person and I wouldn't be a problem," he said. "I'm a great teammate and I'm a hard worker. I don't cause any problems. I do everything the coaches need me to do and I've been doing that since I've been playing."
Baldwin was the third wide receiver taken after A.J. Green and Julio Jones.
Character, Haley said, "is something that's always going to be important to us and we obviously believe Jonathan Baldwin has Kansas City Chiefs character, or he wouldn't be part of this team now.
"Last year with the way some things fell, and guys were captains, it looked and worked out very well. But Jonathan Baldwin is our type of guy. We're excited about him coming in and being a part of what we're doing here."
The Chiefs swapped first-round positions with Cleveland, giving up their 21st pick in the first round and gaining the Browns' 27th as well as a supplemental pick in the third round.
But confusion reigned for a few minutes when Baltimore, picking 26th, did not announce a selection in their allotted time. The Chiefs then took Baldwin as the 26th selection.
"We were told Baltimore passed," said Haley. "That's what we made sure of and confirmed a second time that that was indeed what occurred."
Baldwin said he was looking forward to working with Bowe.
"That's a great thing to have," he said. "I'll soak up a lot of things from him. I'm a very hard worker, with big-play ability. I'll give it everything I have and I will do everything the coaches ask me to do."