In his time in the NFL, Scott Pioli has become known for his excellent decision-making come draft time. This skill benefited the New England Patriots for many years, with Pioli’s recognition of innate skills leading the Patriots to Tom Brady in the 2000 NFL draft.
The first round of the 2011 NFL draft was no different, with Pioli working the board to get what he wanted.
Pioli surprised many in Kansas City, shrewdly trading the 21st overall pick to the Cleveland Browns for the 27th overall in addition to an early third-round pick. After the Baltimore Ravens were unable to choose in their required amount of time, the Chiefs were able to land wide receiver Jon Baldwin out of Pittsburgh with the No. 26 overall pick.
Baldwin will bring an immediate offensive presence to the Chiefs that is desperately needed. Finishing last season with the 30th ranked passing game, the Chiefs came into the draft looking for a wide receiver to open up the passing game by taking pressure off of Dwayne Bowe.
Baldwin was known for his ability to hang on to any pass that was near him in his time at Pittsburgh, hauling in 128 receptions in three seasons there. His soft hands and size make him a threat in the end zone as well and give Matt Cassel another solid option when looking downfield.
With Baldwin lined up opposite Dwayne Bowe, the Chiefs will have more freedom on passing plays as well as be able to open up the defense for Jamaal Charles on the run. If Baldwin is able to successfully transition into the pro game, his strength after the catch will frequently force opposing defenses to put two defenders on him.
In addition, Baldwin has shown the ability to get downfield and run block. This will help continue the success that Chiefs fans witnessed last season from running back Jamaal Charles, with Charles speed allowing him to break free for large gains.
If the Chiefs are able to work with Baldwin on his routes, they will potentially have two top receivers in Bowe and Baldwin.
While many expected Kansas City to look for defensive help or help on the offensive line, Pioli decided to go with a more immediate need in the first round, grabbing Baldwin. In addition, the extra pick from the Browns leaves the Chiefs with nine draft picks overall this year, giving them three choices tomorrow.
Overall, the Chiefs came out of this round better than expected. With a stellar receiver like Jon Baldwin in addition to the third round pick, Kansas City deserves and A-minus for their first-round moves. Depending on Pioli’s move with their extra third-round pick tomorrow, the Chiefs could view this round as one of the better moves in recent draft history.