With all the talk of the draft starting to heat up, and mock drafts seemingly everywhere I look, I have gotten in the spirit. Looking through all the Cardinals sites and posts, it seems like only 2 things are certain as far as who we draft at #13; It has to be OLine or Pass Rush.
Ive seen people that say Martin, Decastro, or Rieff would really help us out on our Oline.
Ive seen people that say Perry, Ingram, Upshaw would help us rush the passer.
What I havent seen is anybody mention Andre Branch, DE, Clemson.
After doing some research on this kid, I am really liking what I see. He has excellent size, speed, agility, explosiveness to be an edge rusher in our 3-4 defense. He has almost the exact same Height/Weight as Aldon Smith and faster 40, faster 20yd shuttle, exact same time in the 3 cone, an inch less in vertical jump, and rated almost the same as Aldon Smith coming out. Now we all know what Smith did this year in SF, and alot of that was due to his size and speed, which were his biggest strengths. I think Branch is this years Aldon Smith and has the potential to be an ELITE edge rusher for us in the near future. Of course, his coverage skills will have to be developed, just as Aldon Smiths, but it is far easier to teach somebody to cover then it is to teach them how to be an elite edge rusher. Branch has experience dropping into coverage at the OLB position and is very good playing the run, so he is in fact ahead of Aldon Smith in that regard, though he is not quite as good rushing the passer, but not far off either.
After everything I have read and watched on Andre Branch, I feel that he is a very good player and potential star pass rusher. He has all the intangibles and athleticism to get it done. Even with players like Ingram, Upshaw, Kuechly still available, I wouldnt be surprised to hear his name called at #13.