At some point, the Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley is going to figure out what to do with Andre Branch.
Is the second round draft pick from Clemson in the 2012 NFL Draft a linebacker in Bradley’s scheme or is he an end with his hand on the ground? Does Branch get the start on the line, or does he fill the third slot in the middle next to Paul Posluszny and opposite Russell Allen?
Branch right now, appears to be a man with a true position in this defense, which makes him a very dangerous player for this team.
And maybe that is the reason this team did not “reach” for a defensive end with the second pick in this draft. At 6’4 and 265 pounds, Branch is similar in stature and size to that of Dion Jordan, the player the Jaguars had been linked to, the man who was supposed to solve their pass rush issues.
In college, Branch, like Jordan, was an "incomplete player" and need seasoning in the NFL, learning his trade to become a more effective pass rusher and tackler. Branch started the season looking like a player who would fulfill the potential, but wound up spending most of the season on the injured reserved list.
He still may need more seasoning this year, but in Bradley's scheme, trial by fire may be the best thing for him. He could fill the spot Jordan was envisioned to play.
Ironically, Jordan was drafted one pick later by the Dolphins.
Last season, Branch was supposed to be the pass rusher to help solve the paltry defensive issues the Jaguars faced. With Jeremy Mincey still in the fold and Jason Babin set at the other end position, Bradley has to be licking his chops at the prospects of being able to use Branch in many capacities.
The Jaguars have had pass rushers in the past like Tony Brackens who were used in many ways within the system. It seems as though Branch is headed that way as well. Remember also that someone like Paul Hazel, an undrafted free agent in camp stands a good chance to make the squad as well.
At 6’5 and 227 pounds, he could be a linebacker in rush situations as well. Two speedy rush linebackers with two larger defensive ends make it pretty impossible for a quarterback to move out of the pocket.
For those reasons alone and the fact Branch can be so many things to this team, there was no reason to reach for anything in the most recent NFL Draft.