University of Pittsburgh junior wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin intends to declare for the 2011 NFL Draft, he confirmed to NFLDraftScout.com on Tuesday, shortly after coach Dave Wannstedt stepped down amid pressure following a disappointing 7-5 season.
Reached through text message Tuesday evening and asked if it was safe to say he would forego his senior year with Wannstedt stepping down, Baldwin responded, "No, it's not safe to say that. It doesn't change my quarterback!"
At first, it sounded as if Baldwin was non-committal on his future, but when asked, "Why would you stay (for your senior season) when you have no chemistry with QB Tino Sunseri, a new coach/system taking over next season and possibly hurt your draft stock for the 2012 draft, Baldwin clarified, "Oh, I misunderstood you ... Heck yeah I'm leaving. It can only get worse. They had me running a lot of deep routes (this year) and yards were hard to come by. I barely ran intermediate routes; it felt like they were purposely trying to disrupt my draft stock."
At 6-feet-5 and 230 pounds, Baldwin is the No. 6-rated junior wide receiver by NFLDraftScout.com. But he entered 2010 with high expectations after catching 57 passes for 1,111 yards and eight touchdowns as a sophomore.
He was rated the No. 1 underclassman prospect in the Big East by NFLDraftScout.com Senior Analyst Rob Rang in August. However, he struggled to build on his sophomore success and has 52 catches for 810 yards and five touchdowns entering Pitt's bowl game as he struggled to adjust to first-year starter Sunseri.
Before the start of the season, Baldwin expressed his concerns on how he would adjust to Sunseri, and was cautiously optimistic about the success they could achieve on the field together.
"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't worried, because Tino and I haven't been on the field together that much," Baldwin told NFLDraftScout.com in an exclusive interview in July. "This is a big year for me, and I made him aware of that; he knows it's an important year for me, and he's going to try to help me have a big year."
The optimism that Baldwin expressed during the summer never translated on the field this season. And even though Pittsburgh will face Kentucky in the Compass Bowl on Jan. 8, Baldwin will have to prove to scouts this offseason that he's worthy of a high-round selection in April.
Baldwin is currently NFLDraftScout.com's sixth-rated junior wide receiver.
Chris Steuber is a Draft Analyst for NFLDraftScout.com, distributed by The Sports Xchange.