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In taking Baldwin, Chiefs putting trust in Haley's track record

What were they thinking?

That was among the first questions uttered when the Kansas City Chiefs made University of Pittsburgh wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin their first-round pick in last month's draft.

Too risky a player for a premium choice, the critics said. Too much about himself. Too quick to point fingers at others when things go wrong. Too willing to take the easy way out when it comes to practice and working to improve his skills. In short, a classic diva receiver.

So, what were the Chiefs thinking? Here's what: coach Todd Haley and his history of being able to handle divas.

Baldwin has immense talent to go along with all of that attitude. Haley is capable of preventing that attitude from getting in the way of the talent, as he has demonstrated with different receivers on different teams.

The latest example is Dwayne Bowe. After struggling through the transition from the easy-going approach of Herman Edwards to a massive dose of tough love after Haley took over as coach in 2009, Bowe made the 2010 Pro Bowl with career bests of 1,162 receiving yards, a 16.1 yards-per-catch average and NFL-best 15 touchdowns. He eventually came to understand that a poor work ethic won't cut it with Haley. Baldwin will learn that as well.

If he doesn't believe Bowe, Baldwin can always consult some of the top-flight receivers that Haley previously coached: Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin in Arizona, and Terrell Owens in Dallas.

What were the Chiefs thinking when they selected Baldwin? They were thinking about giving franchise quarterback Matt Cassel another big-play target.

General manager Scott Pioli isn't inclined to invest a first-round choice in a player he thinks doesn't have a good chance of making a positive impact. When Pioli made the decision to draft Baldwin, he was thinking about the track record of the man coaching his team.

Follow Vic Carucci on Twitter @viccarucci.

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