Sports Outside the Beltway

NFL Draft 2008 – Round 1 #29 – San Francisco 49ers – NT Kentwan Balmer

NFL Draft 2008 Logo The 49ers didn’t let much time tick off before grabbing North Carolina nose tackle Kentwan Balmer.

The ESPN guys are apoplectic but it’s a great value pick.

Scouts, Inc.: 20th

Strengths: Is tall with adequate bulk and room to get even bigger if necessary. When he plays hard he can be flat-out dominant. Gets good forward lean in stance and displays outstanding initial quickness. Has experience playing DT and NT. Takes sound angles to the ball and makes plays in pursuit. Is playing with a better motor as a senior. He can take on blocks when he stays low. Generally wraps up upon contact and is an adequate open field tackler. Athletic, flashes the ability to redirect inside after setting blockers up to the outside and is a relentless pass rusher. Moves well laterally and runs line stunts well. Shows adequate awareness, times jumps well and he gets hands up when isn’t going to get to the quarterback. Blocked two kicks in 2006 and can contribute on special teams.

Weaknesses: Inconsistent effort earlier in career. Is he a one-year wonder? Plays too high at times and will lose his power when he does. Not disciplined enough. Gets sucked inside and upfield too often. Needs to do a more consistent job with his hands and can take too long to shed blocks.

Overall: In his first three seasons at North Carolina (2004-’06), Balmer appeared in 30 games (11 starts) at defensive end and defensive tackle, recording 34 tackles (7.5 for losses) and 3.5 sacks. As a senior in 2007, he started all 12 games and delivered 59 tackles (9.5 for losses) and 3.5 sacks. He had right knee surgery following the 2005 season and missed two games in ’06 after suffering an ankle sprain. Balmer could play DE in a three-man front but we think he’s better suited to play DT or NT in a 4-3 scheme in the NFL. Regardless, he is tall and strong with adequate bulk and outstanding quickness. Balmer can take on blocks, disrupt plays in the backfield and collapse the pocket  but only when he wants to. While he finally displayed first-round ability as a senior, NFL teams must be concerned about this one-year wonder. Prior to 2007 we viewed Balmer as a talented underachiever and the question is whether the light has finally come on or if he will revert to old, lazy habits following his big NFL payday.

Rick Gosselin: 24

Mel Kiper: 25

For a team making the move to a 3-4, this move makes perfect sense.

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