Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Jonathan Baldwin Is No Larry Fitzgerald

Jonathan Baldwin's gotten a lot of hype during the offseason.  While he's one of the best receivers in college football, I'm not necessarily ready to compare him to Fitz:
"I was at that game scouting Stull and [tight end Dorin] Dickerson," said one scout in attendance. "I knew who Baldwin was, but I had never seen him play in person. That drive was impressive, and it really showed how dominant he could be on the big stage. But, that catch he made in the end zone, against a pretty good defender, brought back memories of Larry Fitzgerald."
Fitz was too special of a player. I'll have to see a lot more out of Baldwin before I annoint him to anywhere near that level.  As great as JB has been, let's keep in mind his career high for yards came last season - 'only' 57 catches for 1,111 yards.  That, of course, is a pretty good year.  But it's not Heisman-worthy as Fitz' best season was - 92 for 1,672.

And as I've pointed out before, Baldwin had several games where he disappeared last year:

- 1 catch for 17 yards vs. Rutgers
- 1 catch for 5 yards vs. Syracuse
- 4 catches for 44 yards vs. Buffalo

That won't get it done if you're trying to slide next to the greatest wideout in school history.

Sticking with Baldwin but moving onto...fantasy college football?  My thoughts on that are another issue for another time, but here's one guy who isn't sold on Baldwin putting up big numbers:

Let someone else reach for...
Jonathan Baldwin. Sure he's one of the more physically gifted wide receivers in the country, but I'm not sold on the Panther offense in 2010. Only two offensive linemen return, Tino Sunseri has some big shoes to fill, and this will remain a run-first and run-second offense. I'm not telling you to avoid Baldwin, just that there are reasons to doubt that he'll match his 57-1111-8 from 2009.
I think the new line and QB will hurt Baldwin, but I think the running game will be enough of a threat to warrant a lot of looks his way.  So with that said, I expect him to improve upon his numbers from last season.


  1. he was just comparing the one catch to fitz i think. if he was talking about the diving catch in the end zone against notre dame, then yes he is right on the money about it. it was fitz-esque. but i agree with you that his season was not at all like a larry fitz pitt season. he was not nearly as dominant as fitz was. not by a long shot.

  2. I may be the only PITT fan who wasn't over the moon regarding Baldwin last season. He's good, and may be great in time, but IMO he has a lot of room to improve.

    I had to laugh when fans were drooling about his 'circus' catches over the middle in games last season - in almost every case they were exaggerated by his mistiming his jumps for the ball - in one case he left his feet and ended up catching the ball at his waist.

    Don't get me wrong - Baldwin did have some amazing plays last season - that diving catch in the end zone where he laid out parallel to the ground was a gem and very Fitz like - but I even wonder if he'll be a first rounder next season. I don't think he is a lock for that at this point in time.

    As to his 2010 production... it may be less than 2009 IMO as I think Shanahan may well become Sunseri's go-to WR and safety valve. He runs better routes than does Baldwin already and catches everything thrown his way. Between a new OL and his height (yes, I think it will be a factor) Sunseri will be scrambling around a lot this season - he'll look for his favorite on those plays and that'll be the WR with the best football sense. I believe the big surprise of 2010 will be Todd Thomas on offense also - there will be more offensive opportunities for more players in 2010 than there were in 2009 - last season it was pretty much the Lewis/Baldwin show... I think his touches drop this year.

  3. Yeah, in that quote he was only talking about that catch. But I think the general tone of the article was at least being suggestive that he might follow the same path as Fitz. If that path is to the NFL, then I agree. But, like you believe, I also don't believe Baldwin is near Fitzgerald.

    Reed - you're not the only one who noticed this mistiming the jump thing. I don't know what it is. Part of me thinks he just wants to be known as someone who CAN go up and get the ball...even when leaping uncontrollably isn't warranted.

    I do think he'll be a first-rounder as the comparisons (although unwarranted in my opinion) to Fitz will come this season. But then again, I thought Shady was probably a first-rounder, so what do I know.

  4. I don't mind the jumping, you have a 6' 5" guy who can jump like that and make plays, it's tough to defend. I think his mistimed jumps can be partly put back on the QB who wasn't exactly throwing the ball to spots last year, although he did have a greatly improved season. Basically, if you have an erratic passer, it can cause for some bad chemistry with the receiver. I think this season will say a lot about Baldwin...He's definitely not as refined as Fitz was.

  5. I would love to see what he could do if he ever had a QB that could hit him in stride. He won't outrun everyone, but if the ball is there, he'll come up with it more times than not.

  6. Well, Sunseri may be that QB who can hit Baldwin in stride... but we'll see. I guess I just think PITT fans always want that "superstar" and can't settle for a kid just being good.

    To me though - I think Cignetti's real worth isn't his playcalling... in reality that wasn't much different than Cav's, but in his ability to use different personnel in spots. Hence DD's success and Stull's using more weapons.

    So - I think Cignetti won't become enamored with Baldwin (just look at his total # of catches and those games he only got a few) but will spread the ball around to our other talented kids. As I said - IMO Shanahan may well end up with equal of better # of catches this year.