I honestly think this could be the breakout year for 2008 1st round pick, DE Kentwan Balmer. It is well known that most defensive Linemen take time to develop into productive NFL players. A majority of that reason is due to needing to learn proper technique as the game is much faster than in college. Professional players can not succeed solely on brute strength. Balmer has now had one full off-season to develop his game. He has participated in nearly every off-season workout, OTA, and mini camps. (Even when he was not required to attend!) Kentwan has also spent this off-season working out with fellow DE, Justin Smith. Smith is a consummate professional and the ideal person for KB to learn from!
It has been written that Balmer has improved greatly and our coaches (mainly DC Greg Manusky and HC Mike Singletary) are really impressed by him.
Quote:Singletary's Notebook: June 5
On Kentwan Balmer’s progress:
“Kentwan is one of those guys that I am very, very excited about, as well as the other coaches. He has made such great strides in maturity, development. For him to come out here, just to give you an example, this speaks volumes. I don’t need to say anything else about him. For him to come out here, with the veterans, our first mini-camp and go through that whole camp, knowing that it was going to be painful and then to come right back out here with the rookies, when the rookies have to do it, and I told all the veterans, you don’t have to do it. He was the only veteran that I couldn’t run off. He wanted to do it and he was fine and that was a very tough thing, but said a lot for him.”
On if he thinks Balmer will be able to make an impact this season:
“Absolutely. All you have to do is talk to him a little bit, watch him work. He worked with Justin Smith the whole offseason and that’s just been great for him and he’s got a tremendous work ethic. I remember when we drafted him, I talked to his coach in college, John Blake at North Carolina. He said, ‘Mike, all of Kentwan’s ability and his ability to make plays is in front of him. He’s very raw.’ That was an understatement. He was raw coming in. You kind of look at him and you think, ‘Man, okay, I’m waiting.’ And toward the end of last season, I’m telling you, I can understand what Scot [McCloughan] saw in him because he has a heck of a package and a lot of ability. I’m very excited about him.”
Quote:Lineman Works to Fulfill 1st Round Promise
Many defensive linemen before Balmer have needed at least a year to work on technique before making any impact. In that sense, this brutal game is a little like ballet. You can't do it on talent alone.
"The first year for D-linemen is so much technique," general manager Scot McCloughan said. "In college, you can get away with speed, quickness and power. In the NFL, you can't do that. The linemen are too good."
McCloughan said defensive coordinator Greg Manusky told him Balmer was his most improved player from last year to this. McCloughan said he's "very excited at what he's going to bring this year."
One difference in Balmer this year is that he has trimmed nine pounds, down to 306, on his 6-foot-5 frame. He's not beefy enough to play nose tackle, but during 11-on-11 drills he rotated through all three line positions in the 3-4 defense, then switched sides entirely to play left end on the field goal kicking team.
In closing, I would not be suprised if we do see a drastic improvement in KB. In fact, I have a feeling that by mid-season, Kentwan Balmer will be the starting Defensive End opposite Justin Smith. I wish him the best in hopes that he can justify his 1st round draft status. Here's to you, KB!
UPDATE: I had high hopes for you in 2009. Now, I'm not sure what will happen? You better step your s**t up, KB! It's now or never.
[ Edited by PTulini on Jul 14, 2010 at 7:56 PM ]