COLLEGE PARK, MD - OCTOBER 15: Defensive end Andre Branch #40 of the Clemson Tigers celebrates during the closing moments of the Tigers' 56-45 win over the Maryland Terrapins at Byrd Stadium on October 15, 2011 in College Park, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
With the 58th pick of Pride of Detroit's 2012 NFL mock draft, the Houston Texans select Clemson defensive end Andre Branch. Kyle Peter is serving as the Texans' general manager, and his reasoning for the pick is below.
With the Texans' first pick, I chose to go with Coby Fleener, the best TE in the draft. While he didn't fill a dire need for them, he did address multiple secondary needs. Now, in round two, I had hoped to address specific needs for the Texans.
There were two key areas I decided to focus on with two secondary areas in the mix. Primarily, I wanted to key in on NT and WR. I had targeted Alameda Ta'amu to come and be a force in the 3-4, but that hope was shot down early by St. Louis. While keeping my options open on wide receivers, I had also begun looking for value dropping at OLB, DE and especially OL. Last season the Texans offense continued to put up solid numbers after Andre Johnson went down, but it fell off the face of the earth after Matt Schaub got injured. So strengthening the offensive line could be a distinct possibility. Early options are Zebrie Sanders (OT - Florida State), Joe Adams (WR - Arkansas), Mychal Kendricks (SILB - Cal) or Jared Crick (DE - Nebraska).
It took me less than one minute to submit Andre Branch as the pick. He's been listed as a first-round talent on several sites and top 25 on a few. I never imagined he'd drop this far, so I completely ignored him while contemplating a pick. While OLB isn't the greatest need for the Texans, he's just too good of a prospect to pass up. The Texans did lose Mario Williams to Buffalo, but they return the potent duo of Connor Barwin (11.5 sacks) and Brooks Reed (6.0 sacks). Adding Branch to that group will allow them to continue to rotate in, staying fresh late into the game.
Branch has a ton of talent. Joining a team that will enable him to develop and adjust to the position change could be the best situation for him. In the end, I wasn't able to pass up a player that had dropped further than expected to address a perceived need. I think if Branch had gone off the board the final decision would have come down to Jared Crick vs. Mychal Kendricks. Both are talented players who would address other areas of concern.
Check out the 2012 Pride of Detroit Community Mock Draft tracker for a look at all of the picks.
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