Jaguars mock draft tracker: Alabama’s Brian Branch emerges as favorite

The cupboard won’t be bare for the Jacksonville Jaguars at the tight end position.

The team ensured Evan Engram won’t become a free agent next week by using the franchise tag to retain the 28-year-old tight end. While Chris Manhertz and Dan Arnold both appear likely to hit the market, the return of Engram has convinced plenty of experts that the Jaguars plan to go a different direction than tight end in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft.

In a survey of 34 mock drafts published since the beginning of March, a new name has emerged as the favorite to be the Jaguars’ selection with the 24th overall pick:

Brian Branch, CB/S, Alabama (14.7%)

AP Photo/Vasha Hunt

Mocks: Charles McDonald (Yahoo Sports), Ryan Wilson (CBS Sports), Nick Suss (Nashville Tennessean), Jarrett Bailey (Bears Wire), Brad Crawford (247 Sports)

Via McDonald:

Brian Branch is a steal at this point for the Jaguars, sliding right into the nickel spot for their defense. Branch would give the Jaguars defense versatility they didn’t have a season before.

O'Cyrus Torrence, G, Florida (8.8%)

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Mocks: Matt Anderson (Vikings Wire), Scott Bair (, Jonathan Alfano (ClutchPoints)

Via Anderson:

The Jaguars have all the weapons in the world on offense. Now they need to ensure they are helping to protect Trevor Lawerence. Torrence is a mauler at the guard position, and he can step in on day one and be a force on the offensive line for this team. It’s not a splashy pick, but it’s a nifty one.

Darnell Washington, TE, Georgia (8.8%)

Joshua L Jones/USA Today Network

Mocks: Nate Davis (USA Today), Luke Easterling (Bucs Wire), Kyle Meinke (MLive)

Via Meinke:

After using the franchise tag on Evan Engram, the Jaguars could turn to other, more immediate needs. Alternatively, they could continue investing in the position by selecting one of the nastiest freaks in this year’s draft. At 6-foot-7 and 264 pounds, with 34.5-inch arms and 11-inch hands, Washington might be the best blocking tight end in this class. Then he went to the combine and posted a 4.64 in the 40-yard dash and 4.08 in the short shuttle. We’re sure he’s human, right?

Story originally appeared on Jaguars Wire