I have to be honest. While I've read about both Kentwan Balmer and Chilo Rachal, I have plenty to learn about them before safely being able to see what they bring to the table for the 49ers. Later this week the folks from Conquest Chronicles, our USC blog, will have insight on Chilo Rachal. Additionally, I hope to get some more info on Kentwan Balmer from the folks at Carolina March, our UNC blog. In the meantime, Scout's Inc has been throwing up their thoughts on first and second round choices.
What he brings: There are concerns that Balmer is a one-year wonder, and he's a developmental prospect who needs to learn to play with better leverage. Still, he has good size and the frame to get even bigger. He's also athletic for his size, so if he bulks up and learns to play with better leverage, he should develop into an excellent nose tackle.
How he fits: We think this a great pick based on the 49ers' inability to stop the run. Balmer should strengthen the interior of the defense as a nose tackle and will be an upgrade over Aubrayo Franklin. Balmer has the quickest and most explosive hands in the draft. The key for him will be his ability to learn the proper technique while maintaining his pad level and learning to play in a 3-4 system. He can contribute immediately as a first- and second-down player, but doesn't have the ability to help as a pass-rusher.
What he brings: The biggest knock on Rachal is his lack of athletic ability and has problems redirecting in pass protection. He struggles, at times, to reach blockers in the second level and athletically he has some limitations. However, he's quick off the ball, jars defenders with a strong punch and gets in position quickly. He also does a good job holding his ground against bull-rushers.
How he fits: It's obvious the 49ers feel they need to upgrade at guard with the loss of Larry Allen in the offseason. Rachal is a mauler who needs to be in a confined area due to his athletic limitations. However, he has the size and initial quickness to wall off and position while creating inside lanes. He should be able to come in and compete with David Baas at right guard.
Whether Balmer is lined up at nose tackle or as a defensive end, he seems like a prototypical big-bodied guy who will take up offensive lineman, freeing up space for the linebackers to make plays. If he was drafted to be a pass-rusher we may have some issues early on, but if he's taken because he's just one damn big dude, he could fit in quickly. Of course working alongside a guy like Justin Smith has to be a positive for a young guy like Balmer.
As for Rachal, Conquest Chronicles is high on the guy and doesn't think him leaving early will be the worst thing in the world for him. For you Warriors fans out there, Kelenna Azebuike left Kentucky after his junior year because of family money issues. After most of a season in the NBDL, he latched on with the Warriors and has been a big contributor. It sounds like Rachal is further along than that and can make a contribution immediately. Combined the retirement of Larry Allen with the Dave Baas injury and he'll certainly get a shot right off the bat.