April 13, 2011
With the 2010 NFL season in the books, the draft edging ever closer (and a lockout battle now headed to the courts) it's time to turn our eyes to the pre-draft evaluation process. We've already done scouting reports of the top 40 players on our board, and you can read all the details on the first Shutdown 40 here. For the second Shutdown 40, players 41-80, we have the advantage of combine performances and that much more evaluation material.
Over the next few weeks, we'll also be adding Pro Day data when relevant. But we're always going mostly on game tape; the proper evaluation formula seems to be about 80 percent tape, 20 percent Senior Bowl/combine/Pro Day. If you see what you expect in drills, you go back to the tape to confirm. If what you see in drills surprises you in a positive or negative sense, you go back to the tape to catch where the anomalies may be.
We continue the second Shutdown 40 with Pitt wide receiver Jon Baldwin, who went the same high school (Aliquippa High in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania) as Mike Ditka, Ty, Law, and Darrelle Revis(notes). Baldwin presents an intriguing size/speed combination; he ran a 4.49-40 at the scouting combine at 6-foot 4 and 228 pounds. At Pitt, Baldwin put up 18 receptions for 414 yards and two touchdowns as a true freshman and really blew up in his sophomore year, when he caught 57 passes for 1,118 yards and eight scores. In 38 total games for the Panthers, Baldwin brought in 127 passes for 2,325 yards and 16 touchdowns.
However, there are red flags that put Baldwin quite a way down the receiver boards of most draft pundits — serious questions about his attitude, maturity, and consistency have popped up from time to time. Baldwin has had the time and opportunity to answer those questions with NFL teams, but since we're about the tape here at Shutdown 40 HQ, let's belay the other stuff and take a closer look at Jon Baldwin, Future NFL Receiver.
Pros: Presses off the line and gets up to speed pretty impressively for his size; could be an asset on slip screens. Will jump and catch in traffic even when he knows the big hit is coming, and he's an imposing target when he gets vertical. Will stretch for passes downfield and can do so without losing a lot of speed — potentially devastating on 9-routes for that reason. Will physically overwhelm smaller defenders inside on slants, digs, and posts. Succeeded in a Pitt program with a limited passing game, generally unspectacular quarterbacks, and his role as the primary target of most every pass defense he faced.
Cons: Tends to struggle with his body control on tight timing routes — understandable to a point, since he's a tall, high-waisted player, but he looks like he's on skates at times and that will need to be fixed at the next level. Tends to turn his body instead of moving his feet in place on comebacks. Good inline speed, but doesn't have that extra gear to accelerate downfield to make tight catches — better at jumping and diving in those cases. Size gets in his way when he tried to juke defenders in space; he doesn't have especially quick feet to get free in short areas. Not always physical enough when he needs to be — for example, when he's boxed out downfield by a cornerback, he doesn't always push and move out or up to stay open. Isn't quick to turn upfield; his motion is more a half-circle than a quick turn-and-dash.
Conclusion: There are some fairly major issues that pop off the tape when you watch Jon Baldwin, but it's difficult to know how many of the fundamental issues about his play would have been fixed had he been in a more dynamic offense in which he wasn't the primary focus. His struggles in the combine drills, however, didn't help his case — asked to succeed in a neutral environment, Baldwin showed a lot of rust in frills and when trying to catch passes in quick-cut situations. Malcolm Kelly(notes) had some of those same issues, and would have benefitted from a team with higher standards and better overall teaching and schematic discipline. Unfortunately, Kelly got the Jim Zorn Redskins, and whatever is it Mike Shanahan's trying to do these days. Baldwin may need a better environment to succeed in the NFL.
NFL Comparison: Malcolm Kelly, Washington Redskins
More Second Shutdown 40
#41 — Justin Houston, OLB, Georgia | #42 — Muhammad Wilkerson, DT/DE, Temple | #43 — Aaron Williams, DB, Texas | #44 — Ryan Williams, RB, Virginia Tech | #45 — Rahim Moore, FS, UCLA | #46 — Martez Wilson, ILB, Illinois | #47 — D.J. Williams, TE, Arkansas | #48 -- Marvin Austin, DT, North Carolina | #49 — Jerrel Jernigan, WR, Troy | #50 — Jabbal Sheard, DE, Pitt | #51 — Christian Ballard, DE, Iowa | #52 — Brooks Reed, DE/OLB, Arizona | #53 — Randall Cobb, WR, Kentucky | #54 -- Colin Kaepernick, QB, Nevada | #55 — Sam Acho, OLB/DE, Texas | #56 -- Andy Dalton, QB, TCU | #57 — Davon House, CB, New Mexico State
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