Andre Branch

Draft Grades: Jacksonville Jaguars

I feel like I should apologize to Jacksonville Jaguars fans for GM Gene Smith. He continues to make a mockery of the NFL Draft. In his first few years at the helm Smith showed an inexplicable obsession with small school prospects. And while that phase seems to have passed, he’s moved on to 3rd-round punters and 28-year-old D-II players.

The Jags draft got off to a solid start with the selection of Justin Blackmon. They needed to upgrade the talent around Blaine Gabbert, and Blackmon will immediately jump to the top of their depth chart at receiver. If he lives up to expectations, Gabbert’s numbers should improve dramatically.

I also like the selection of Andre Branch, who fills their need for a pass rusher. Branch is still developing, but he’s in a good situation in Jacksonville where he can be a part of the rotation without having to stay on the field for every play. If they bring him along slowly as a rookie, he should be ready to be an impact player in 2013.

After two solid picks to start the draft, it went downhill in a hurry. Bryan Anger was far and away the best punter in this year’s draft class, but the 3rd round? It was a reach that could potentially be justified by a contending team with few holes to fill, but the Jaguars are in the midst of a full-fledged rebuilding process. There is no possible way for Gene Smith to justify this selection.

Brandon Marshall adds some depth at linebacker, but there were much better players on the board, such as Terrell Manning, who would have filled that same need.

Mike Harris was an odd pick in the 6th round. The Jaguars would have been well served to add a legitimate starting cornerback in the 1st or 2nd round, but depth at the position is actually a strength. Harris is undersized and, even at Florida State, was limited to primarily playing the nickel corner role.

Jeris Pendleton is a 28-year-old from a Division-II school. The Jaguars will use him at nose tackle, and he could potentially be forced into a starting role early if Terrance Knighton isn’t ready for the start of the season. It’s an experiment that could go horribly wrong, and they don’t appear to have a backup plan in place.

Gene Smith has officially taken over the Al Davis role as most unpredictable general manager on draft day. And while most of his picks leave much to be desired, this should still prove to be an average draft class for the Jaguars. Blackmon and Branch are two quality additions, but the lack of help from the late rounds means there’s no margin for error with those two.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Draft Grades - 2012, Jaguars Comments Off

Jacksonville Jaguars select Andre Branch, Grade A

I have been critical of Jacksonville Jaguars GM Gene Smith in the past, but he’s putting together a nice draft this year.

Andre Branch was the top defensive end on the board, and should make immediate impact in Jacksonville. They needed to add a young end to improve their pass rush, and Branch can definitely be that guy. He’ll likely be used as part of a rotation early in his career, which should maximize his ability to be effective as an edge rusher.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft, Jaguars Comments Off

Andre Branch scouting report

Andre Branch DE Clemson #40
Ht: 6’4″

Wt: 260

 
Strengths:
Prototypical size. Above-average speed for the position; can make some plays in pursuit. Shows good awareness on the field; keeps his eyes in the backfield and makes adjustments. Impressive motor; plays through the whistle and never gives up on a play. Does a nice job diagnosing run vs pass; isn’t overaggressive with his pass rush and is willing to hang back and let the play come to him. Impressive stamina; wears down offensive linemen throughout the course of the game and maintains his productivity deep into games. Some experience playing with his hand off the ground; may be considered at option at outside linebacker for some 3-4 teams.
Weaknesses:
Plays too upright at times; needs to stay low to improve the leverage in his bull rush. Pass rush skills are average; doesn’t have the explosion off the snap to consistently win off the edge and lacks the strength to consistently bull rush his way into the backfield. Stats are misleading; many of his sacks are hustle/coverage sacks – he fights hard and eventually wears down the blockers. Likes to go for the strip too often and will miss some would-be easy tackles.
Comments:
Branch lacks the explosion of an elite pass rusher, but he makes up for it with a balanced game. There are some minor things he needs to work on, but he’s fairly polished for a college defensive end. What’s most impressive is his willingness to play the run – so many college defensive ends want to pin their ears back and fly into the backfield on every play. Branch is willing to be patient and hang back when necessary, and does a nice job diagnosing when it is necessary. He is a prototypical 4-3 defensive end, but he does have enough athleticism to play linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. In a 3-4 system he would do well playing opposite a more explosive pass rusher so the attention isn’t always on him.
Videos:
2011 vs Virginia Tech
2011 vs Auburn
2010 vs South Florida 
Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Scouting Reports - 2012 1 Comment