Today’s mock features a blockbuster trade in which the Arizona Cardinals trade pick #3 to the Tennessee Titans for the Titans’ 2023 #11 and #41 picks, plus their 1st round pick in 2024 and their 2nd round pick in 2025. The Titans, thereby, are able to move one state over to tab QB Will Levis from Kentucky as their QBOF.
My hope was to be able to draft Alabama CB/S Brian Branch at #11 because I believe that pound for pound Brian Branch is the most gifted defensive playmaker in the 2023 NFL Draft. See for yourself:
As crazy as this sounds, Brian. Branch is not only one of the elite cover DBs in both man and zone in this draft, he is the best tackler in this draft, period. In three years at Alabama Branch delivered on 140 solo tackles, 30 assisted tackles for a total of 170, with only 4 missed tackles in his career, while playing in the SEC. That’s absolutely phenomenal.
Tackling is contagious —- how many times this season did the Cardinals’ first defender on the ball whiff? I pointed this out to my pal Trish while watching a game and she just started laughing every time. Brian Branch could be a huge tone-setter for the team that selects him.
PFF grade: 89.5
Alas, in this mock simulation, the Panthers selected Branch at #9.
But, I had another defensive stud in mind in Clemson’s DT Brian Bresee and was delighted to see him on the board. From there, thanks to two other trades, I did my best to try to draft the best player available at each pick.
Here were the results:
Brian Bresee, DT, Clemson
O’Cyrus Torrence, G, Florida
Andre Carter II, Edge, Army
Emmanuel Forbes, CB, Mississippi St.
Jalin Hyatt, WR, Tennessee
Clark Phillips, CB, Utah (he goes way earlier, imo, but to see his name here was automatic)
Joe Tippmann, C, Wisconsin
QB Jake Haener, Fresno St.
Trey Dean III, S, Florida
DJ Turner, CB, Michigan
Dee Winters, LB, TCU
Zack Kuntz, TE, Old Dominion (check 3rd play into this late game OD upset win highlights over Virginia)
In the real draft, I would be very happy to take CB Emmanuel Forbes at #34 and CB Clark Phillips at #46 and then at pick #96, take the best available C or G and go from there.
To you, which of these players jump out on tape?