04/30/2012 - A closer look at the Jaguars picks: Round 2/38 - Andre Branch, DE, 6-5, 260, Clemson...Branch fills the team's biggest need on defense, a physical, pass-rushing end. He had an ACC-leading 10.5 sacks last season which included four in one game against Virginia Tech. He had a team-high 17 tackles for loss and was a team co-captain, a quality the Jaguars look for in their draft picks. - The Sports Xchange
Branch is a raw, flashy, long-armed player with great closing speed, but still has a long ways to go if he wants to excel in the NFL. He arrived at Clemson as a highly-rated high school linebacker and lined up there occasionally in college, but was usually at the team's "Bandit" or right end spot.
He was selected first-team All-ACC in 2011 after leading Clemson in sacks (10.5) and tackles for a loss (17). He finished his career with 17.5 sacks and made at least one tackle in 41 consecutive games.
There is nothing fancy about Branch's game and he will probably best fit into an NFL defense that has a very specific role to take advantage of his exceptional straight-line speed, which was validated at the Combine with an unofficial 4.70-second clocking in 40 yards.
Pass rush: Inconsistent initial burst off the snap. Has enough explosiveness to cross the tackle's face and shows good flexibility to dip under the blocker's reach and turn the corner. Long arms and quick hands, though he hasn't yet shown the pass rush repertoire to take advantage of his natural tools. Good closing speed. Can chase down the quarterback and shows good lateral agility and balance to flatten out and chase the ball-carrier to the sideline.
Run defense: Lacks the bulk and strength to consistently hold up at the point of attack at this time. Comes off the snap too high and relies on his arm length, initial punch and good lateral agility to shuck and elude blockers. Too often is blown off the ball in short yardage situations.
Explosion: Possesses a legitimate blend of explosive speed and power which could result in much improved play with greater technique. Can beat lethargic offensive tackles off the snap with his burst. Good upper body power to stack and shed, as well. Some untapped potential in this area.
Strength: Can't hold up to the double-team, but has enough strength to occasionally set the edge. Good strength for the pull-down tackle, flashing the explosiveness to knock ball-carriers to the ground based on impact, alone. Will have to add another 10+ pounds to remain as a full-time defensive end for most four-man fronts.
Tackling: Shows some intriguing natural athleticism in this area. Has the agility and balance to break down in space and make tackles of smaller, elusive ball-carriers. Good straight-line speed and possesses a legitimate closing burst. Has to do a better job of wrapping his arms around the ball-carrier securely, as NFL-caliber backs may be able to run through his explosive hits. Needs to be more consistent with his effort and angles in pursuit.
Intangibles: Signed with Clemson as an outside linebacker and still plays the position occasionally for the Tigers (Georgia Tech). Earned the "12th Man Award" in 2009, as he finished among team leaders in tackles, tackles for loss and sacks despite not starting a game. Enjoyed a "breakout" game against Virginia Tech in which he recorded career highs in tackles (11), tackles for loss (six) and sacks (four).