In the NFL, there's a theory that if a player has talent, a coach and franchise will take a chance on him.
This has to be what the Detroit Lions were thinking by claiming former first-round pick Jonathan Baldwin off of waivers Monday afternoon. The Lions will be Baldwin's third team since being taken with the No. 26 pick in the 2011 draft by Kansas City.
Baldwin was mostly unproductive with the Chiefs, was traded to San Francisco and was ineffective there as well, catching three passes all of last season before being cut Sunday. The Lions saw him on the waiver wire and made the claim, clearly hoping to rehabilitate a career that had a lot of promise when he left Pittsburgh after the 2010 season to enter the draft.
He's an impressive looking athlete who hasn’t been able to match the production he was drafted to provide.
The Lions are always on the search for tall wide receivers, hoping the work ethic and professionalism Calvin Johnson provides can potentially rub off on one of them. In Baldwin, they have a receiver who has a similar build to Johnson at 6-foot-4, 230 pounds.
His college career showed there was talent to match that frame. If the Lions are able to find the right way to motivate Baldwin, then he could end up being a steal who could sneak in and swipe a roster spot away from one of the players competing for those roles now: Kevin Ogletree, Kris Durham, Corey Fuller, Ryan Broyles and Jeremy Ross.
If not, then it might have still been worth a shot despite the data presented about his prior production in Kansas City and San Francisco. For a back end of the roster player, it can’t hurt to take a peek and see if they can change the path of Baldwin’s career.
As long as there is talent and someone who at least minimally believes, a player will get a chance in the NFL. Whether this is the spot where Baldwin flourishes or if it is another opportunity that eventually falls away will all depend on the next few weeks.