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Tag:Dave Wannestadt
Posted on: April 29, 2011 3:51 am
 

Baldwin to KC the head-scratcher of 1st round

Each year plenty of draft picks are panned by us in the draft analysis business and wind up proving (surprise, surprise) that NFL teams know more about their prospects than we do.

Perhaps that will be the case with Kansas City's selection of former Pitt Panther wideout Jon Baldwin with the No. 26 overall selection.

But I believe Baldwin was the most surprising selection of the first round.

It isn't just that I'm lower on Baldwin that most. I certainly acknowledge his unique combination of size, speed, leaping ability and body control. He proved to be a big play threat while with the Panthers and is entering an ideal situation with the Chiefs due to the fact that they already have a legitimate No. 1 target in Dwayne Bowe to take the pressure off of the rookie.

However, despite the fact that the 6-4 (3/8), 228 pound Baldwin has the size to intimidate, he isn't a particularly physical receiver. In fact, when defenders pressed him at the line of scrimmage, he struggled.

It is also important to note that this is the same Baldwin who questioned former Pitt head coach Dave Wannestadt and his offensive staff when he told NFLDraftScout.com's Chris Steuber of his intention to leave the Panthers early for the NFL. (Baldwin later recanted, before re-announcing the decision.)

Given the rarity that Scott Pioli invested a first round pick in a wide receiver previously and these questions about Baldwin's physicality and maturity, I was stunned by the selection -- especially considering the number of highly touted offensive and defensive linemen still available. These positions, of course, were thought to be Kansas City's focus heading up to the draft.

Pioli's track record speaks for itself and Baldwin is a terrifically gifted player. Had you asked me prior to the draft to pinpoint one of the least likely pairings in the first round, however, I just might have picked this combination.
Posted on: January 8, 2011 11:43 am
Edited on: January 8, 2011 12:39 pm
 

Last game for Pitt/UK Jrs Baldwin, Lewis, Cobb?

Though the BBVA Compass Bowl may not rival the Cotton or Sugar Bowl in terms of notoriety, there are certainly some future NFL prospects to keep an eye on this morning.

There is plenty of senior talent to watch. Pitt boasts the Big East Defensive Player of the Year in pass rusher Jabaal Sheard and one of the better offensive linemen that no one seems to be talking about in left tackle Jason Pinkston. Kentucky's talent is largely on the offensive side of the football. Senior running back Derrick Locke is a 5-08, 190 dynamo capable of beating teams with his speed and elusiveness as a runner and receiver.

For both teams, however, the greater talent lies with their underclassmen -- the top three of which are reportedly strongly considering making today's bowl game their final collegiate contest.

Pitt WR Jon Baldwin told NFLDraftScout.com's Chris Steuber weeks ago that he was going to go pro . Though he's since retracted his statement, scouts fully expect the 6-5, 230 pound athletic phenom to indeed leave Pitt early for a chance at the NFL. Baldwin hasn't been as spectacular this season (52 catches for 810 yards and 5 TDs) as he was in a breakout 2009 campaign (57-1,111-8) but much of this has to do with the Panthers incorporating a new quarterback (Tino Sunseri) who was unable to develop the same rapport with the playmaking Baldwin as Bill Stull did a year ago.

The more surprising news out of Pitt is that redshirt sophomore Dion Lewis is also considering leaving early. On the one hand, it is difficult to fault Lewis - or any running back, for that matter - for wanting to get paid as soon as possible for the wear and tear they'll absorb running the football, but Lewis, like Baldwin, is coming off a disappointing season.

The 5-08, 195 pound Lewis earned All-American honors as a redshirt freshman in 2009, rushing for an eye-popping 1,799 yards and 17 TDs. This year, however, he found the sledding much tougher, rushing for "only" 956 yards and 12 touchdowns through the regular season. Lewis should be able to run all over a Wildcat defense that ranks 79th in the country, giving up 170.31 yards a game, however, extending his strong finish to the year.

The most exciting prospect to watch in this game is clearly Kentucky wideout Randall Cobb, perhaps the most versatile player in the country. He leads the SEC with 2,192 all-purpose yards and has scored touchdowns in nearly every form imaginable this year -- as a runner, receiver, passer and returner. The 5-11, 190 pound Cobb's versatility is reminiscent of the Jets' Brad Smith and the Steelers' Antwaan Randle El. Should Cobb elect to come out this season, he'd likely get a bit lost in the shuffle of all the prototypical 6-3, 210 pound wideouts likely to be available, but if he slipped into the late second or third round, could prove a huge steal.

As spectacular as Cobb is, however, he faces a tough opponent in this Pittsburgh defense. Former head coach Dave Wannstedt and former defensive coordinator Phil Bennett (serving as interim head coach in this game) have done a great job defensively with this team. The Panthers ranked 9th in the nation in total defense this season.

This game begins at 12:00 pm EST and will be televised on ESPN.

As always, for the very best in NFL draft coverage, the place to go is N FLDraftScout.com.
 

Posted on: December 8, 2010 11:32 am
Edited on: December 8, 2010 11:34 am
 

Steuber: Pitt Jr WR Baldin going pro

NFLDraftScout.com analyst Chris Steuber is reporting that Pittsburgh junior wide receiver Jon Baldwin will be foregoing his senior season and entering the 2011 NFL draft.

Steuber and Baldwin exchanged text messages shortly after Panthers head coach Dave Wannestadt announced his resignation from the position.

When asked if he'd be returning or going pro, Baldwin responded with "...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."

While pro teams may have a problem with Baldwin's publicly questioning the motives of Wannestadt, offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti and perhaps the talent of quarterback Tino Sunseri, they have to acknowledge Baldwin's unique physical ability.

Baldwin, 6-5 and 230 pounds, is a matchup nightmare. While not explosive, he possesses good build-up speed, excellent body control and good hands.

Baldwin led the Panthers with 52 receptions for 810 yards and 5 touchdowns this season. He averaged a career-low 15.6 yards per reception, down from 19.4 in a breakout sophomore season that saw him catch only five more passes but for 301 more yards and another three scores. Baldwin has caught 127 passes for 2,325 yards and 16 touchdowns over his career for Pitt.

Baldwin is NFLDraftScout.com's sixth-rated junior receiver but could be drafted ahead of any senior prospect at the position -- a testament to his own ability and that of his extraordinary 2012 draft class that includes the likes of Georgia's A.J. Green, Alabama's Julio Jones, and Oklahoma's Ryan Broyles, among others.




Posted on: November 11, 2010 3:55 pm
Edited on: November 11, 2010 3:58 pm
 

Don't have NFL Network? Scout Pitt-UConn w/ me

As most football fans know, the slate of Thursday games on NFL Network begins later today with a potential Super Bowl preview between the Baltimore Ravens and Atlanta Falcons. Each club is riding high at 6-2 and in first place in their respective divisions.

Those fans that don't have NFL Network, however, needn't be wanting for good football on this Veteran's Day holiday. ESPN is offering an key Big East conference matchup between first place Pittsburgh and Connecticut.

Pitt's underclassmen talent at wide receiver (Jon Baldwin ) and running back (Ray Graham, Dion Lewis ) will get much of the media attention, but for scouts the real focus in this game will lie along the Panthers' defensive line.

There is a possibility that reigning Co-Defensive Player of the Year Greg Romeus will make his way back onto the field for the first time since the season opener. The 6-5, 268 pound Romeus entered the season among the nation's top-rated defensive ends and a likely first round prospect, but a back injury and resulting surgery to correct a lower disk problem has kept him sidelined.

In his absence, Pitt has received stellar play from their "other" defensive ends. Scouts knew all about senior Jabaal Sheard , who had played well opposite Romeus in the past and has elevated his play since Romeus went down. Sheard, in fact, has emerged as one of the nation's best pass rushers. He leads the Big East with nine sacks and as Pitt head coach Dave Wannestadt noted recently, his tenacity is one of the characteristics that is boosting Sheard's stock with scouts.

"Jabaal Sheard is having a phenomenal year. You have to really appreciate what he is going through to get to the passer. He just keeps coming and coming. He's rushing the passer as good as any defensive end in the country. "

As I mentioned in a previous post detailing the news of Romeus' impending return , the Panthers don't have to force their star back onto the field early. Junior Brandon Lindsey has done a great job of replacing Romeus (eight sacks, 12 tackles for loss so far).

Pitt's talented defensive line is arguably the biggest reason why the Panthers sit atop the Big East.

Baldwin and, most notably, Lewis, haven't been as dominant this season as perhaps some had expected, but with turnover along the offensive line and at quarterback from last year, it simply has taken them a little while to get rolling. Lewis, who entered the year as the favorite to be the Big East Offensive Player of the Year, has actually been overtaken by the sophomore Graham, himself a future NFL prospect. The Pitt offense has been playing well recently, however.

One bright spot along the Pitt offensive line is left tackle Jason Pinkston , a potential top 75 prospect for the 2011 draft, whose pro future may lie inside at guard.

Connecticut entered the season as a trendy pick to win the Big East and offers some interesting Day Three talent at linebacker and running back. Outside linebacker Lawrence Wilson is the headlining prospect on a senior-laden group in the middle. Junior running back Jordan Todman has emerged as the next big play runner from Randy Edsall's offense. Todman is helped with the blocking by fullback Anthony Sherman , who quietly rates as one of the better all-around senior prospects at the position in the entire country.

As always, those who would like to scout "alongside" me can follow my thoughts on this game (as well as the Ravens-Falcons contest) on Twitter. Follow me there @RobRang.
Posted on: September 15, 2010 2:14 pm
 

Pitt DE Romeus to undergo back surgery Thursday

Pittsburgh defensive end Greg Romeus will undergo surgery Thursday to repair a disk in his lower back.

Head coach Dave Wannestadt, in a statement, said that he hoped to have Romeus back by the end of the season. It is unclear as to when Romeus originally hurt his back. He played, albeit ineffectively, in the season-opening loss to Utah. Romeus did not play last week against New Hampshire.

Part of Wannestadt's statement acknowledged that the surgery “is the best option for Greg, personally and athletically.”

Romeus, 6-5 and 268 pounds, is a signficant loss to the Panthers. Lining up opposite Jabaal Sheard, himself a legitimate NFL pass rush prospect, Romeus earned Co-Defensive Player of the Year honors last season with 43 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, eight sacks, three forced fumbles, an interception and a blocked PAT.

Regardless of if Romeus is able to return to the field for the Panthers this season, his final draft status will ultimately hinge on the medical grades given by team doctors at the Scouting Combine.

When healthy, Romeus has proven to be among the country's better pass rush prospects.

Prior to the season Romeus had been graded by NFLDraftScout.com as a potential first round prospect. I had him going to the Seattle Seahawks with the sixth overall pick in my initial 2011 mock draft (which featured only seniors).



Posted on: July 20, 2010 12:01 pm
 

Pitt DE Sheard suspended indefinitely for fight

Pittsburgh defensive end Jabaal Sheard, one half of the Panthers' set of future NFL pass rushers, has been suspended indefinitely from the team after an arrest early Sunday morning.

Sheard was arraigned Sunday morning on charges of aggravated assault, resisin ting arrest, criminal mischief and disorderly conduct. According to this article from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette , Sheard ignored commands from police to stop fighting. He was hitten with a baton and pepper-sprayed and yet continued to fight 27-year old Edward Parker.

At one point Sheard picked up Parker and threw him through the glass door of La Fond Art and Photography Gallery. According to the article, Sheard walked into the gallery and continued to punch the bloodied Parker, who was laying on the ground.

Sheard, who has started each of the past 26 games for Dave Wannestadt's Panthers and was expected to contend for All-Big East accolades this season playing opposite Greg Romeus, is a legitimate NFL prospect. The 6-3, 255 pound defensive end posted 42 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, five sacks and a team-high 12 quarterback pressures in 2009 and with opposing teams likely to focus much of their attention on Romeus, a potential Top 20 talent, the opportunity for Sheard to put up even better numbers in 2010 looked promising.

Scouts working for teams operating out of the 4-3 and 3-4 told me that each was quite interested in Sheard. They felt he had the combination of size, athleticism and natural pass rush skills to potentially fit into their scheme.

Instead, Sheard's NCAA and NFL future, for that matter, is very much in doubt.




 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com