Has good size and uses it well to get position against smaller defenders. Has strong hands to pluck the ball out of the air. Has deceptive long speed because of he's a long strider adn he can get behind the defense. Tracks the deep ball well. Will go up and make the jump ball catch. Has good body control, able to twist his body in the air to adjust to the throw, as well as make the diving catch or snag on the low throw. Shows good potential as a blocker, able to deliver blow and uses his size well to get position downfield.
Lacks ideal short-area burst and seems to have trouble separating on the shorter routes. Tends to push off at times. Will tip his routes and at times appears to be a lazy route-runner. Doesn't get as good a release against press coverage as someone with his size and speed should. Doesn't have great speed or burst with the ball in his hands and doesn't give you a lot after the catch. Needs to do a better job securing the ball after the catch, tends to gather himself, and not as physical a runner as his size should merit. Lets some balls get into his body and will double catch some throws. Doesn't consistently show good effort going after the ball on deep passes. Gives only perfunctory effort as a blocker on the edge, doesn't hold his blocks, and misses too many assignments there.
Baldwin is an intriguing prospect because of his size and ability to make plays downfield. His production dipped this past year due to shoddy and inconsistent quarterback play at Pitt. But it was clear that his effort also took a dive as he seemed to mentally check out. This was on display after he declared for the draft in early December after Dave Wannstedt was fired and blamed the coaches for purposefully disrupting his draft stock by making him run too many deep routes. He later retracted the comments, but it does raise some character issues with Baldwin. He followed up a strong sophomore campaign where he had 57 catches for 1111 yards (19.5 avg) and 8 touchdowns with 53 catches for 822 yards (15.5 avg) and 5 scores as a junior. Was a good basketball player in high school, averaging 22 points and 9 rebounds per game as a senior, receiving scholarship offers from schools like Marquette. His cousin is former Bengals CB Charles Fisher (1999-2000).
If you pop in sophomore tape of Baldwin, there are some plays he made that year that remind you of the last great Pitt wideout: Larry Fitzgerald. But his play as a junior, makes you think he's probably closer to being Antonio Bryant. Baldwin has good ball skills, size, and deceptive long speed to make him a very good factor on the vertical routes. His size also means that he doesn't need to get great separation on the shorter routes, but you do worry whether or not he's a guy that is really going to shine there enough to be a go-to target inside 10-15 yards. He can get better there, but he's probably best served playing in a scheme that will use him in a similar capacity as a Vincent Jackson and try to get him in a lot of one on one situations on the outside downfield. I think his NFL future is probably similar to that of Robert Meachem, in that I don't expect him to hit the ground running as a rookie. Eventually, the player you sort of hope he turns into is Plaxico Burress. LIke Burress, he'll probably work well in an offense opposite a good No. 1 target that can be more of the possession wideout like he did early in his career in Pittsburgh across from Hines Ward. As his career progresses and he improves his route-running, develops a stronger rapport with his quarterback, then he can start to become more of a No. 1 receiver like Burress was in New York. But there is a boom/bust potential with Baldwin, and he could easily create a lot of headaches. I can't fully blame him for his down junior season because poor quarterback play did really hurt him. He was clearly Pitt's most dangerous weapon on offense and he was too often an afterthought. But those red flags when it comes to questionable effort and playing down to his competition are scary for wideouts. I doubt he'll be a complete bust, but it would also not surprise me if 5 years from now he's just a No. 3 guy that struggles to catch more than 30-40 passes a year. He doesn't seem like the type that is going to be catching 80+ passes a year, but that 60-70 pass range seems to be his sweet spot and he certainly can be a 1000-yard receiver even with that workload.
Baldwin is a similar player to Michael Jenkins, except he's a much better vertical receiver because of better size, thicker build, body control, and more natural ball skills. He is the type of player that could be an asset in the Falcons offense because of his ability to work the vertical seam and go up and get the ball for a passer like Ryan who isn't particularly blessed with a great arm for the vertical offense. He has the potential to shine on those 20-30 yard routes for those reasons. His size also means that he can be an asset as a blocker on the outside if he commits to it. But the question of course is raised about his character, effort, and toughness. I'm not convinced he's going to be that much different than Jenkins, in that he'll have limited production. I think the difference likely will be Baldwin's 3-5 catches per game, he'll be more likely to generate those big plays down the field. But is he a true No. 2 that can scare defenses from doubling Roddy, or is he more like Jenkins and is a No. 3 that is a nice complement, but won't be able to consistently make those plays down the road? That is the big question with him. As a rookie, I suspect Baldwin can come in right away and carve a niche as a No. 3 or No. 4 guy that can give the team 20-30 receptions. And by his second or third season should be entrenched as a starter and be able to catch 50+ passes.
Baldwin has late first round potential, but the character issues makes him a much safer value in the top half of the second round.
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite
After Catch: 2.0
Body Control: 4.0
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.