Seeing as how we're only entering week six of the NFL season, it would be a little early to start writing off members of this year's draft class as busts, or, as the case may be, hyping them up as instant stars. It takes time to evaluate these things, and a strong rookie season doesn't always lead to a long, successful career as an impact player.
Take for example Tampa Bay wide receiver Michael Clayton, who burst onto the scene with one of the best rookie seasons we've seen from the receiver position in quite some time. Since that rookie campaign, however, he's been a rather large disappointment, failing to come anywhere near the lofty numbers he put up that first year.
On the other end of the spectrum, Steelers safety Troy Polamalu hardly played during his rookie season, and when he did find himself on the field, he struggled to make any kind of impact. Frankly, he was kind of terrible that year. The following season, he blossomed into a perennial all-pro. Some players simply take a little longer to develop.
That being said, the San Francisco media seems to be eating it up this week that first-round pick Kentwan Balmer, and second-round pick Chilo Rachal, so far, kind of stink, while DeSean Jackson is, so far, kind of awesome. When you consider the 49ers passed on Jackson in the draft -- twice -- and the 49ers are playing the Eagles this week -- they didn't pass on Jackson -- well, it leads to a lot of talk among the local scribes.
And by a lot of talk, I mean threelocalpapers have stories up today regarding the teams decision to take Balmer and Rachal over Jackson. It was also a topic of discussion at Head Coach Mike Nolan's press conference yesterday, where the embattled coach had this to say.
"We liked the two players we took. We did like him as well though. I don't want to take anything away from him. He's a very good player. He was over here, we met with him, we spoke with him. He was pleasant, he was good. I remember it was a good experience in speaking with him. But at the time, we had a couple other players that we felt were, not necessarily a need, but the players we thought would help us. But he's a good player. I don't want to take anything away from him. He's done a good job. He's the explosive player he thought he would be."
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Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee points out in his blog that Rachal, currently the No. 4 guard in San Francisco, has yet to see field, while Balmer was bulldozed out of the TV picture on Sunday during one of Kevin Faulk's touchdown runs. He's recorded just three tackles this season.
Jackson, on the other hand, has been incredible for the Eagles -- once he remembered where the end zone is -- leading the team with 23 catches and 335 receiving yards, while also returning a punt for a touchdown.
Should Jackson have a big game on Sunday, I imagine we'll see a few more columns on this topic in the coming days. Even if it is too early to make any sort of long-term assessment on any of these players. But, hey, that's the win-now society we live in.