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Lawrence Jackson revives old scandal surrounding Kentwan Balmer, Mel Kiper

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Time to go back down the rabbit hole.

The worst draft pick in San Francisco 49ers history is up for debate. You could argue A.J. Jenkins given simply how little he did and how quickly he was traded for peanuts. You could argue Jim Druckenmiller given the expectations at the quarterback position. Or maybe you’re a Reggie McGrew fan.

One player in the mix would have to be defensive tackle Kentwan Balmer. The 49ers spent the 29th overall pick on Balmer in 2008. There was not much excitement surrounding the pick, and I don’t know many people that were surprised when Balmer did not pan out.

There is not much about Balmer that is memorable, but his involvement in a controversy with Mel Kiper got some new life this weekend. This weekend saw a New York Times report about companies that sold Twitter followers and retweets to famous people. Someone commented on the topic and how publicists, agents, and others are paying for favorable coverage. Former NFL defensive end Lawrence Jackson pointed to Mel Kiper, specifically.

He later said that he saw someone get drafted in the first round that shouldn’t have. It’s easy to point to Balmer given how quickly he washed out of the league, but there is actually more to Balmer than just insinuation. In 2010, SI reported that Mel Kiper was involved in a pay-for-play scandal with agent Gary Wichard.

Wichard represented Kentwan Balmer. One-time sports blog Sports By Brooks (alternative link) looked at Kiper’s mock drafts and compared it with others. They found that Kiper had Balmer ranked well ahead of numerous experts. It’s unfortunately hard to find 2008 mock drafts. The only version of Kiper’s 2008 mock draft I could find was from a message board posting his January 23, 2008 mock draft. Kiper had Balmer going No. 10 to the New Orleans Saints.

I came across Walter Football’s final mock draft of 2008, and they had Balmer going No. 38 to the Jacksonville Jaguars. That’s just one example, so if you find additional 2008 mock drafts, feel free to drop them in the comments.

Even if Kiper is not taking money to bump players up, there is always concern about the echo chamber that inevitably develops in the pre-draft process. Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson has been leading in our NN mock draft database, but we’re starting to see Virginia Tech linebacker Tremaine Edmunds get more love. The picks do make sense given the 49ers needs, but it’s easy to see people getting caught up as other notable mock drafters decide to go in a given direction.

And regardless, it at least gave us a chance to talk about a notable 49ers bust!