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Colts 2022 Draft Interviews: Daylen Baldwin, WR, Michigan

Meet Michigan wide receiver Daylen Baldwin. We discuss his long college journey, his experience learning under Josh Gattis, and what his role could be in the NFL.

Daylen Baldwin is a wide receiver that played his high school ball at Waterford Mott High School in Waterfield, Michigan. He started his career at the FCS level, originally committing to Morgan State University.

I asked Baldwin how a player that eventually ended up at Michigan started at such a small program:

I guess you could say I was a late bloomer. I wasn't super good in high school. I just kept developing, kept working, and never got discouraged... well I won't say I never got discouraged, but I kept working no matter what was going on. It was all just a product of always working hard and never giving up.

Baldwin eventually transferred to Jackson State, the FCS program now famously known for being coached by Deion Sanders. After a redshirt year, Baldwin exploded for the Tigers in the shortened spring season, notching 540 yards and seven touchdowns in six games played.

I asked him what was key to this breakout season:

There really wasn't even a key to it, it was just my time. I didn't do anything different, I was still working hard during that time. I had to sit out my first year at Jackson State, so I had a complete offseason to just work on my game. I practiced the whole time, so I was going against the 1's in practice.

I just took the approach that I'm going to go out here and get better and worry about (playing) next year. What people don't really know is I actually followed one of my coaches from Morgan State and never played a down for him. Deion (Sanders) was hired down there and he ended up being my coach.

I was a little lost down there at times, but I just stayed focused and kept working hard. That was the only thing I had. It was just a product of the work, man. It was a long road, but a blessing as well.

Baldwin was heavily recruited by FBS programs after his breakout in the spring season. While many teams pursued him, he opted to commit to Michigan.

I asked him why he chose to commit to Michigan when he could have potentially played more at a slightly smaller school:

So, I knew Coach (Ronald) Bellamy from high school, because he coached at West Bloomfield. We never played against them but we knew who each other were. I had that relationship there, and I actually went to workout at Michigan after I had worked out with a few other Big Ten schools.

Really it was just the relationship I had with Josh Gattis. He is a really detailed receiver coach and, for me, it was about becoming the best version of myself. I felt like he could pull that out of me. Just the detail that he trained with and the things that he harped on really helped me a lot.

Yeah, I want to play and I want all the targets on the team, but it was all about being the best version of myself. I actually feel like I've done that, and that I'm the best version of myself so far. I definitely have a lot more to go, still.

Baldwin finished the season with 17 receptions for 256 yards and two touchdowns in his one season with the team, as Michigan was able to reach their first ever College Football Playoff game in 2021.

Learning under Josh Gattis

Baldwin mentioned that one of the biggest appeals of attending Michigan was the coaching of Josh Gattis. Gattis (now Michigan's Offensive Coordinator) is a prominent wide receivers coach that has worked with players such as Jerry Jeudy, Jaylen Waddle, Chris Godwin, and Jordan Matthews at the college ranks.

I asked Baldwin what his experience was like learning from one of the best college coaches in the country:

He just refined (my game). Anything that I had messed up or didn't do correctly, he just refined it and harped on it every day. Things like pad level, staying low through your routes, he harped on that every day. Every day I was there and every day until I left, it was always pad level, pad level, pad level..

Those little things, and harping on the small details every day, helped me a lot. Definitely a credit to him. He's a great coach.

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Special Teams Ability

We have seen a lot of players try and make it in the league that are Height/Weight/Speed guys like Baldwin. The thing that separates players and helps them really stick in the league is their ability, and willingness, to play on special teams.

I asked Baldwin about his background with special teams and asked if he is willing to to play them early to stick in the NFL:

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My first two years at Morgan State, I played all special teams. My wide receiver coach was the special teams coordinator. He made sure I was on special teams and he made sure I was good at it. If you did not do well on special teams, you did not play for him. That was the bottom line and that was who he was.

Ron Dickerson Jr was my receiver coach there at Morgan State. He helped me a lot with that and made sure that I knew that I had to play special teams if I want to make it in the league. When I did play at Jackson State, we were battling with some injuries at the receiver spot, so I couldn't play special teams down there.

At Michigan... honestly it was pretty tough playing special teams there. Just learning everything fast with that, and with the offense, was tough. I played some special teams, but I know that is something that I'm going to have to do, and I'm very comfortable doing as well.

Michigan definitely helped me a lot with the details of special teams. They had a call for everything and I was able to take that all in. Even when I wasn't on special teams, I was still in the meetings with the understanding that I'm going to have to do this one day.

It may not be helping me right now, but this could help me find my niche in the league.

Best Football is Ahead

While Baldwin is a slightly older prospect in this class, he is still fairly young in football years. He has only seen one season of real volume and he was able to capitalize with Jackson State in 2021.

With all of this factored in, I asked him if he felt like his best football was still ahead of him:

Absolutely, without a question. I personally don't think I'm anywhere near my peak yet. My best football is definitely ahead of me.

NFL Outlook

I finished off the interview with the same way I finish all of them. I asked Baldwin how he would sell himself to a team this offseason. I asked him what my team would be getting, on and off the field, if they draft him:

You are just getting a great person. Just a great person with loyalty, that's the type of person that I am. A hard worker, somebody that is going to work to be the best and to be on top of his game at all times.

You are getting an overall good teammate. Not playing as much as I wanted to at Michigan, I had to fall into where I needed to be and push the guys in front of me. Whatever I need to do, I'll do it. I just really want to win.

Lastly, just a dude who loves the game. I really love football, and I would do whatever to make sure I'm the best at what I do. Just a dude that is going to keep working. 

Baldwin is an excellent example of the type of athletic receivers that stick in this league. We have seen it here in Indy with Ashton Dulin, and I think Baldwin is cut from a similar mold.

He is going to have to grind to make it in the league, but he appears perfectly equipped to do so. Here is what his agent, Bryan Miller of Ocean View Sports, had to say about his client:

"Not only is Daylen an incredible football player he is an incredible young man. His work ethic is unprecedented, the level of focus and determination he possess on and off the field will award him the opportunity to have a long career at the next level. Daylen’s size, speed and physicality separate him from any other receiver in this draft class."

"There has never been a question of Daylen’s on field presence, no one gets an opportunity to transfer to Michigan and jump into a starting role unless they are just simply that good! His attitude, intelligence and on field traits have propelled him into conversations with 28 of the 32 NFL teams. When you’ve got a NFL body and consummate pro mindset to back that up, it’s a great mix that every team seems interested in”

Baldwin is a name to watch in this class as a player that sticks a lot longer than his draft position may suggest. Keep an eye on this guy come April.

Full Video Interview:


 

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