It's widely considered, by pundits and scouts alike, that USC DT Sedrick Ellis and LSU DT Glenn Dorsey are the top two interior defensive linemen available in next month's NFL Draft. After that, there has been some conjecture, but it appears that North Carolina DT Kentwan Balmer has seperated himself from the rest of the pack and he's poised to be a late first round selection at this point.
"I'm not all caught up in that stuff," Balmer said at the NFL Scouting combine in February when asked about being ranked behind Dorsey and Ellis. "I know how hard I've worked. I know how hard I've prepared.
"It will all pay off for me in the long run."
Until this past year, Balmer had been seen as an uber-talented lineman, who had as much ability as anyone in the country, but he just lacked the intensity needed to reach his enormous potential.
But 2007 was different.
Balmer posted 59 tackles, 9.5 tackles-for-loss and 3.5 sacks and was named second-team All-ACC and given honorable mention All-American honors by Pro Football Weekly for his work at both defensive end and defensive tackle.
Because of his versatility, Balmer said he compares himself to a New England Patriot who he gets inspiration from.
"If I was gonna be compared to anybody, I'd want to be compared to Richard Seymour," Balmer said. "He's a very versatile player. He plays hard and he plays with passion."
Balmer credits his only season under first-year Tar Heel head coach Butch Davis for his amped up play.
"Coach davis and his staff helped me elevate my game," Balmer said. "I look for big things out of North Carolina in the future because I know what type of coaches they are.
"A lot of coaches I had at North Carolina had NFL experience. This past year, our whole staff was filled with NFL coaches and coordinators. They really brought a different type of attitude to the team and they instilled a different type of mentality in me."
Some have tried to figure out if Balmer will end up being a 4-3 tackle or a 3-4 defensive end. With his skill-set, many think he'd be good at both and the young man from Weldon, North Carolina agrees.
"We had a package this year where I played the 4 technique, so it's nothing new," Balmer said. "We played some 3-4 last year in some packages. It wouldn't be a big transition for me if I were in a 4 technique or a 3 technique. It's all the same. You just focus on your technique and go out there and execute. That's what it pretty much comes down to."
And much of that technique is what has propelled him to the top of the defensive tackle list this spring.
Scott Ecklund is a Draft expert and special contributor for Seahawks.net. You can read more of Scott's analysis on the Scout.com network by searching for "Scott Ecklund"