Aliquippa's Baldwin out to prove himself
INDIANAPOLIS — Jon Baldwin, one of the most athletic players in the 2011 NFL Draft, talked about how he spent off days during the season running routes and watching film. Jason Pinkston, a teammate of Baldwin's at Pitt, talked about the extra time Baldwin put in after practice with quarterbacks and the other receivers.
"He's there for the team's best interests," Pinkston said.
Baldwin is trying to convince NFL teams of the same thing this week here at the league's Scouting Combine.
Questions about Baldwin's work ethic and attitude are all that prevent Baldwin from going in the first round of the draft — and becoming the latest in a long line of Aliquippa products to do so.
Baldwin passed an early test at the combine when his official height (6 feet, 43⁄4 inches) and weight (228 pounds) were almost identical to his listed ones (6-5 and 230). He is expected to excel today in the 40-yard dash and other tests that gauge physical ability and skill.
Yet what figures to most impact Baldwin's draft stock is how he fares in the 15-minute interviews that teams conduct with prospects.
Baldwin complained about his role in the Panthers' offense last season to NFLDraftScout.com while telling the website of his decision to leave a year early for the NFL.
Baldwin, whose production slipped after a breakout sophomore season, later backed off the comment. But he declared for the draft anyway — a decision he said he reached after consulting with his family and former Panthers coach Dave Wannstedt, whose forced resignation in December led to Baldwin lashing out.
"He maybe made a couple of mistakes in the heat of the moment, but he's definitely a team guy," Pinkston said.
Baldwin said teams he has interviewed with have asked him if that is indeed the case.
"We've discussed it, and I'll be answering the questions," he said.
Baldwin did not elaborate, but if he answers questions to teams' satisfaction, he figures to be gone before the Steelers select 31st overall.
The teams Baldwin has met with — his interviews run through today — surely are happy to hear he will tap into the NFL ties that Aliquippa and Pitt enjoy.
Baldwin plans to work out with former Aliquippa and Pitt star Darrelle Revis and former Panthers great Larry Fitzgerald before the NFL draft.
Revis, Baldwin said, has been giving him pointers throughout the draft process and will work with him on beating press coverage.
Baldwin also will get to learn from Fitzgerald when he works out with Fitzgerald and fellow Pro Bowl wideouts Greg Jennings and Roddy White in Minneapolis.
Baldwin said he modeled his game after Fitzgerald's while watching the latter at Pitt, and comparisons between the two are only natural.
"I've watched (Baldwin) a little bit, and he's got some interesting characteristics, to say the least," said Kansas City coach Todd Haley, who worked with Fitzgerald when he worked for Arizona. "To compare somebody to Larry after he's done what he's done is not fair to (that person) until you get a little further along."
Baldwin said he is simply focused on solidifying his status as a first-round pick — and allaying concerns that teams may have about him.
"I just want to go out here and showcase my talent and impress every team," said Baldwin, adding that he doesn't have a preference on which team drafts him. "I know it only takes one team, but I just want to be respected by every team and show everyone what I'm capable of and what I can do."Additional Information:
Quite a catch?
Former Aliquippa and Pitt star Jon Baldwin is considered one of the top receiver prospects in the 2011 NFL draft. Here is how he fared in three seasons at Pitt.
2008: 18 receptions for 404 yards (22.4 average), 60-yard long, 3 TDs
2009: 57 receptions for 1,111 yards (19.5 average), 79-yard long, 8 TDs
2010: 53 receptions for 822 yards (15.5 average), 61-yard long, 5 TDs
Source: University of Pittsburgh
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