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Kansas City Chiefs: Why 2013 Is Make-or-Break for Jon Baldwin

KANSAS CITY, MO - NOVEMBER 27:  Jonathan Baldwin #89 of the Kansas City Chiefs warms up before the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on November 27, 2011 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Travis WakemanCorrespondent IIMarch 30, 2013

The Kansas City Chiefs have made several moves this offseason indicative of a team looking to make a big turnaround from their 2012 season.

The hiring of Andy Reid as head coach coupled with the trade that brought in former No. 1 overall selection Alex Smith are signs that the Chiefs could be this coming season's Indianapolis Colts.

After a 2-14 season in 2011, the Colts went 11-5 and made the playoffs. After a 2-14 2012 season, the Chiefs have the weapons to do the same.

They have shored up the secondary by bringing in cornerbacks Dunta Robinson and Sean Smith. They have also given Smith some targets in the passing game by acquiring tight end Anthony Fasano and wide receiver Donnie Avery.

A wild card this coming season could be wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin.

Baldwin excelled in college at the University of Pittsburgh, making 128 catches for 2,337 yards and 16 touchdowns before entering the NFL draft after his junior season.

Those numbers helped convince the Chiefs to select him with the No. 26 overall pick in the 2011 NFL draft.

At 6'4", 230 pounds, Baldwin is a big, physical receiver. But to this point, he has been largely disappointing as a pro.

In his first two seasons, Baldwin has a total of just 41 catches for 579 yards and two touchdowns.

With Reid coming in this year to install a new offensive system with Smith, Baldwin will likely come to a crossroads of sorts in Kansas City.

Jamaal Charles has emerged as one of the league's best running backs, but in order for the running game to be consistent, Smith will need to be able to count on his receivers.

Dwayne Bowe will obviously be the primary target, and tight end Tony Moeaki could be used the same way the San Francisco 49ers use Vernon Davis.

But a third option in the receiving game will be crucial. That should be all the motivation that Baldwin needs. With teams loading up to stop Bowe, the Chiefs could really take advantage of Baldwin's size and strength to create mismatches.

However, if Baldwin struggles, don't be surprised to see Avery get more snaps. Avery is coming off a very good season in Indianapolis where he became a trusted option for rookie quarterback Andrew Luck.

The 2013 season will be Baldwin's chance to prove why he was a first-round pick—and likely his last.

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