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Pitt's Jonathan Baldwin Impresses At 2011 NFL Combine

It’s fairly unlike that the Pittsburgh Steelers would use their 1st Round pick on a wide receiver in the 2011 NFL Draft. The six-time Super Bowl champs obviously have more pressing needs. But even though the Steelers got solid play from the qaurtet of Hines Ward, Mike Wallace, Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown in 2010, the team could still benefit from having a big, tall wide receiver to help in the redzone.

Pitt Panthers WR Jonathan Baldwin certainly fits that bill. He’s 6-4, 228 pounds and has the potential to be a dangerous weapon at the next level after he improves his route-running skills. Baldwin definitely helped his draft stock at the Combine. He was a top performer in a number of workouts and only cemented his reputation as a guy with uncoachable athleticism.

Here were some of Baldwin’s more notable Combine workout results:

Bench Press: 20 reps at 225 pounds (4th)
Vertical Jump: 42.0 in (1st)
Broad Jump: 10" 9’ (4th)

Baldwin was not a top performer in the 40-yard dash. This came as a surprise to some, as the Aliquippa can really burn once he gets his big, tall frame going. But that shouldn’t matter much, as Baldwin’s real potential lies in his ability to snare the ball up high both along the perimeter and over the middle of the field in traffic.

Following his Combine performance, Baldwin joined The Michael Irvin Show on WQAM in Miami to talk about the experience, how he felt he did compared to some his peers at wide receiver, where he expects to be drafted at this point, how he still feels there's time to improve his draft stock even further, and if there's any team or teams that he'd love to be drafted by. I took the time to transcribe much of the interview, which you'll find below.

How he felt the experience was overall:

“It was a great experience, I got to meet a lot of new people. I met with over 20 teams, got some positive feedback from those teams, so it was a positive experience. I learned a lot of new things; I learned some stuff doing that interview. So overall it was great.”

On how he felt he measured up with some of the other WRs:

“I was one of the bigger guys there. I ran an unofficial 4.45; official 4.5. I had the highest vertical of all the receivers. So I just tried to compete and do the best I could in every thing I did.”

Where he expects to be drafted following his Combine performance:

“Somewhere in the mid to late first round, that’s where I’m projected right now. But there’s still a lot of time to improve that. Like I said, there’s a Pro Day and I’ll be visiting teams, and I’m sure teams will come to Pittsburgh to work me out. So there’s still a lot of time to make that better, and I’m looking forward to it.”

On if he has any preference on where he’s drafted, specifically if he’d like to be selected by the hometown Steelers:

“No I don’t have any preference. Any team that’s willing to take me, I’ll prove to everybody that passed me that I was worthy, you know? Just work as hard as I can as soon as I get in so I can make an immediate impact. So it really doesn’t matter. I’ll go anywhere.”

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.