Wow - when it rains, it pours. Saw this mention by Bryan over at PittScript - looks like Jon Baldwin is headed for the NFL.
It wasn't so much that Baldwin said he intended to leave, rather how he chose to do it.
Baldwin had this to say to NFLDraftScout.com:
University of Pittsburgh junior wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin intends to declare for the 2011 NFL Draft, he confirmed to NFLDraftScout.com on Tuesday, shortly after coach Dave Wannstedt stepped down amid pressure following a disappointing 7-5 season. Reached through text message Tuesday evening and asked if it was safe to say he would forego his senior year with Wannstedt stepping down, Baldwin responded, "No, it's not safe to say that. It doesn't change my quarterback!"
At first, it sounded as if Baldwin was non-committal on his future, but when asked, "Why would you stay [for your senior season] when you have no chemistry with QB Tino Sunseri, a new coach/system taking over next season and possibly hurt your draft stock for the 2012 draft, Baldwin clarified, "Oh, I misunderstood you ... Heck yeah I'm leaving. It can only get worse. They had me running a lot of deep routes [this year] and yards were hard to come by. I barely ran intermediate routes; it felt like they were purposely trying to disrupt my draft stock."
Before I get to that, this quote was also in the article from apparently this Summer:
Before the start of the season, Baldwin expressed his concerns on how he would adjust to Sunseri, and was cautiously optimistic about the success they could achieve on the field together.
"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't worried, because Tino and I haven't been on the field together that much," Baldwin told NFLDraftScout.com in an exclusive interview in July. "This is a big year for me, and I made him aware of that; he knows it's an important year for me, and he's going to try to help me have a big year."
Notice anything in that post? Big year for ME...Important year for ME...help ME have a big year.
Wow, somebody's got a case of the gimmes. I'm not saying Baldwin was only ever thinking of himself this season, but quotes like that...man. Even TO thinks he should probably reign it in a bit.
Anyway, fast forward back to today. I think I would have agreed with Baldwin on the deep route stuff in the past. And to be fair, Pitt probably did try to go deep a bit too much this season. It was clear that Sunseri struggled with getting the ball on deep routes. But I actually think Pitt had a good amount of underneath stuff and even hit Baldwin on those stupid screen passes I generally hate.
I don't know, this whole decision on the spur of the moment tells me that he probably had his mind made up long before this. The thing is, if he does get selected in the first round, it's more on potential than actual production. His numbers dropped this season, and while 800 receiving yards isn't bad, I don't know if it's first-round worthy, either. NFL scouts like to see numbers improve, not drop, and Baldwin declined in his third season.
This isn't a plea to get Baldwin to stay, though. Wide receiver is actually one of the team's deeper positions and Pitt should be fine with Devin Street and Mike Shanahan as starters. Todd Thomas should also contribute.
If this is really it for Baldwin, he was a great player to watch and I think he'll be a productive player in the NFL. Once he gets around a quarterback that's a little more accurate, he should do just fine.