Detroit Lions Draft Prospects: Jonathan Baldwin
By Zac Snyder
The biggest draft needs for the Lions are easy to identify and fall on the defensive side of the ball. That being so, many expect the Lions to consider adding a running back and and an outside receiver in the middle rounds. This thinking is backed up by the players that are publicly known to have made pre-draft visits with the Lions. Maryland wide receiver Torrey Smith made a visit in March while Jonathan Baldwin became the second wide receiver to sit down with the Lions last week. We’ll take a look at Baldwin today.
Jonathan Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh
Weight: 228 lbs.
Arm Length:33 5/8 in.
Hand Size: 10 1/8 in.
40-yard Dash: 4.50 sec
Broad Jump: 10’9″
3-Cone Drill: 7.07 sec
Vertical Jump: 42 in.
Watch his combine workout here
NFL.com combine profile overview:
"Baldwin is giant wide receiver that has the potential to develop into a starter at the next level. He is a speed builder that can get behind defensive backs and he quickly finds the ball in the air. He is a weapon over the middle, as he has strong reliable hands and the body control to make acrobatic catches in traffic. He is dangerous after the catch as he can run away from linebackers and over defensive backs. Baldwin has to refine his route running skills, but he could sneak into the first round due to his freakish measurables."
As the above overview notes, Jonathan Baldwin is a rare combination of size and speed that may be too hard for a team to pass up earlier than some might think. If he does end up going in the first round we can be reasonably certain it won’t be to the Lions, even after a trade down. The second round is the place most likely for Baldwin to come off the board. With that being the round most experts believe is the Lions best shot at landing an impact linebacker it would probably take a perfect scenario and a bit of wheeling and dealing for Baldwin to become a Lion.
While the scenario in which Lions get Jonathan Baldwin later this week isn’t apparent, he would fill a need for the Lions. The failures of Derrick Williams and Bryant Johnson leaves the wide receiver depth behind Calvin Johnson and Nate Burleson quite thin. Burleson’s abilities in the slot mean the Lions are in the market for a third receiver that can play on the outside. Conventional wisdom says this guy should be real burner, capable of gaining separation on deep vertical routes. Baldwin certainly wasn’t the fastest receiver at the combine but he is known for his play on the deep ball. Various scouting reports specifically cite his ability to make a play deep. From the National Football Post:
"Is at his best when asked to get down the field, locate the football and go up and make a play. Looks like a power forward the way he attacks the throw and consistently is able to come down with the catch."
"At his best catching the ball up high where he can use his long arms and ability to elevate. Tracks the deep ball effortlessly and will cause matchup problems in one-on-one jump ball situations. Flashes ability to pull in acrobatic one-handed catch."
Jonathan Baldwin does have a misdemeanor arrest on his record and had some attitude problems while at Pitt. How much those attitude problems can be attributed to him being a malcontent versus frustration over being a superior player on an otherwise mediocre team remains to be seen. He made the Big East all-academic team last fall and there don’t seem to be any questions about his work ethic.
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