After many years of pigskin combat, the savants of the NFL have established a Gospel of Judgment concerning draft classes. Though it is far more popular to rev up the bus about ten minutes after a draft is concluded and proceed to leave tire tracks on the carcasses of players chosen without much fan approval, the wise old boys network does not hand out draft grades until three years have elapsed. Even Mike Ditka knows this.
This gospel therefore pushes into the spotlight the draft class of 2008. At the conclusion of this coming year, that draft class will receive its grades. It’s the final year to achieve a thumbs up or a thumbs down for these boys.
The 2008 49er draft class consisted of Kentwan Balmer, Chilo Rachal, Reggie Smith, Cody Wallace, and Josh Morgan. We did not have a fifth rounder that year because Roger Goodell was a turd and took it away from us. Our seventh rounder, a linebacker named Grant, went on the practice squad and got signed by another team.
How are these guys doing? So far, unspectacularly. Making the 2008 class rather unpopular in 49er land. So far.
Chosen 29th in the first round, this large fellow has been toiling away, mostly out of the spotlight, for two years now. His sole claim to fame at this date, other than a couple of rumbling kickoff returns, is being repeatedly tossed under the bus by disgruntled fans who like to point out we could have drafted DeSean Jackson instead. In fairness, Balmer was a raw talent when drafted and is stuck behind both Abrayo Franklin and Isaac Sopoagna – two fairly stout veterans on our Dline. Nevertheless, fairness goes out the window this year. Balmer must begin to appear on the field doing something meaningful long enough for us to recognize what his uniform number is. Let’s go Kentwan! Time to knock some snot big guy. Otherwise, it’s a big thumbs down for this draft pick.
Our second rounder made it into the starting lineup near the end of the 2008 season, pushed in there by Mike Singletary after replacing Mike Nolan. He did okay in his short debut, but in 2009 he started the year so poorly that by the sixth game or so the bench was reserving a spot for him. As his luck would have it, our RT Pashos got hurt, and the contemplated switch of Adam Snyder to RG was scotched. Chilo retained his job and got better and better as the year went along. The 49ers are expecting big things from Rachal this year and into the future.
Smith was a “tweener” pick, tween CB and Safety. This type of pick was popular with Nolan and not with the fans. Smith spent his first year failing to make a dent as a CB, and his second year showing promise as a safety, only to rip up his groin and be largely invisible the rest of the year. His job this year is to backup FS Dashon Goldson and allow the team to pink slip the resoundingly unpopular Mark Roman. This task is lowered expectations for Smith, but it should be noted that Goldson himself had done nothing much until his third year, which was last year, and he turned in a very promising season, pushing Roman into a backup role in the process. I personally am rooting for Smith to have a breakout year. His name is just too good to be wasted.
This fellow is a complete mystery to everyone but the coaching staff. Has suited up on game day only once in his two years, for a couple of plays near the end of a late season game. No one knows if he is the heir in waiting for Eric Heitmann or the valued reserve who bumps Tony Wragge off the team this year, or just a complete bust. With the drafting of Rachal and Iupati, Wallace has no future as a starter at either guard position.
Saved the best for last. A sixth round steal. Already a success in the league and destined to get even better with age (and a fellow named Crabtree on the other side of the field).
The 2008 draft class is interesting. It could go down as a solid success, a ho-hum okaysville, or a smashing dud. We shall see.