How do you follow up selecting the best receiver in the draft?
You find a pass rusher, off course.
While the Jaguars may not have been able to get their hands on Courtney Upshaw and bypassed on someone like Vinny Curry, they may have landed a "sleeper" in Andre Branch of Clemson.
The pick has to have defensive coordinator Mel Tucker smiling from ear to ear.
Branch, a 6'4", 259-pound defensive end, who can also play on the outside in the 3-4 scheme, according to sidelinescouting.com, will help shore up a defensive line that has been hit by injuries to its defensive tackles Terrance Knighton and Tyson Alualu.
Alualu had knee surgery in the offseason. Knighton was involved in an altercation earlier this month and is recovering from eye surgery. While Alualu will be ready to start the 2012 season, Knighton's return is not known yet.
"Branch had 112 tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss, seven sacks, 23 quarterback pressures, and 10 pass breakups in 1,131 snaps over 34 games (13 starts) in his career," according to the website's scouting report of the 47th overall prospect on the draft board.
I like the pick for many reasons. Branch is an outside pass rusher, which is something the Jaguars desperately need. He also provides depth on the line and on the outside of the middle of the defense.
Last season, the Jaguars brought in Paul Posluszny and Clint Session to shore up the glaring void. The Jaguars defense ranked sixth overall in the NFL.
Versatility is key for this team and Branch, although maybe not the most popular pick, will give the team another dimension on defense.
The sidelinescouting.com report states that he has,
"Good straight-line speed and short area quickness. He changes direction well and moves well laterally and has good closing speed."
Those types of skills will be well received as long as he can get to the quarterback.
Overall Draft Grade: B