Draft spotlight: Clemson DE Andre Branch

Andre Branch runs through a drill at the NFL combine on Feb. 27. (Associated Press)

Andre Branch runs through a drill at the NFL combine on Feb. 27. (Associated Press)



School: Clemson

HT: 6-4

WT: 259

Vertical: 32 inches

40-yard dash: 4.7 seconds

Hometown: Richmond

Key stats: He was selected first-team All-ACC and had 10.5 sacks and 17 tackles for losses in 2011.

Here’s our next installment of the DRAFT SPOTLIGHT feature, which we’ll run periodically up to the NFL draft April 26-28 in New York.

The Falcons pick with the 55th pick in the second round. They also have picks in the third, fifth, sixth and seventh rounds.

Some have Branch projected to go much higher, but he could slip because he’s has some limitations. He’s considered a speed rusher with questions about his durability to hold up against the run. He didn’t bench press at the NFL scouting combine or at his Pro Day.

NFL Network’s Mike Mayock believes he’ll go between 25 and 40. NFL.Com’s Bucky Brooks has Branch as the 36th rated player in his top 50.

He’s a Q&A with Branch:

Q: Do you think you’re a 4-3 end or a (3-4) linebacker?

A: I’m versatile. I can do it all.

Q: Why is that?

A: I can put my hand in the dirt. I can stand up. It shows up on film. I can drop back in coverage also.

Q: How do you compare to some other guys coming off the edge?

A: I’m a natural pass rusher. My main focus isn’t the other guys in the draft. My main focus is myself.

Q: Why did your sacks (10.5) come in spurts last year?

A: I feel like my sacks came in spurts in probably one game. Other than the Virginia Tech game . . . I averaged a sack a game. . . Like I said, I’m a natural pass rusher, and they’ll come easily to me.

Q: Can you talk about the Va. Tech game?

A: I’m just blessed. I can’t tell you there was one thing I could pinpoint. Mostly it was just I felt like I was better than the left tackle, and I felt like that throughout the whole season. But at the same time, they were down, so they had to pass more, so I had more opportunities.

Q: How did you benefit from being a teammate of DaQuan Bowers and what was it like playing without him (last season)?

A: DaQuan (and I) are like brothers. We always helped each other on and off the field. One thing we always helped each other with was pass rushing. There’s some things that he can’t do and there’s some things that I can’t do that he can do. Just being there for him and him being there for me helped me on the field.

Q: What do want to work on and get better at?

A: Everybody in the NFL is great, so just working on every little thing that I can possibly will help. It’s those little things to me that determine the fact between winning and losing, that battle each and every play. Pad level and hands are definitely one or two things that I can work on, but I’m bound to do that.

Q: Do you prefer the right or left side?

A: Either way, it doesn’t really matter to me.

Q: Any thing you do to read the tackle off the snap?

A: I have a lot of moves in my repertoire.

Q: What’s your favorite?

A: Definitely the dip. The dip is my favorite.

Q: Do you have an NFL player you model yourself after?

A: My favorite player is definitely Terrell Suggs. That’s one player I definitely look up to.

Q: Are you friends with Quinton Coples?

A: We’ve established a relationship since we played each other. He’s a great player.

Q: How do you compare?

A: I don’t compare my game to anybody’s. I can compare myself to myself, but I can’t compare to anybody from the outside.

Q: Where does his leadership come from?

A: I’m a leader on and off the field. I was born (a leader). When I say on the field, I’m not just saying, ‘Oh, I want to lead my teammates and go out there and win.’ But when I’m talking about off the field, I graduated. And when my teammates see me being a great player on the field and they see me also being a great student, that’s leading on and off the field.

Q: When did you graduate?

A: December.

Q: Degree?

A: Sociology, minor in education.

Q: What do you want to do with it?

A: My god brother owns about nine group homes in the Richmond area. I want to be his business partner with that.

–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog

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20 comments Add your comment


March 20th, 2012
10:08 am

He has ACC speed and would be nice pick for late 2nd round.

Jeff B

March 20th, 2012
10:17 am

Hard to know who’ll be there @55, but I think you’re dreaming.


March 20th, 2012
10:19 am

He’s a legend in his own mind….


March 20th, 2012
10:23 am

Can you talk about the Georgia Tech/West Virginia games and why no one on your defense to a man could play a shred of diciplined football?


March 20th, 2012
10:35 am

He won’t be theere when we pick, TD will have to be moved enough by this guy to trade up about 10 spots to get him.


March 20th, 2012
10:40 am

D-Led, wouldn’t it make more sense to put the spotlight on someone who doesn’t have a slight chance of “slipping” to Atlanta at 55? It might be better to read about a player the Birds have a realistic shot at drafting. Just a thought…


March 20th, 2012
10:41 am


March 20th, 2012
10:42 am

[...] Atlanta Falcons This entry was posted in Atlanta Falcons and tagged Andre, Branch, Clemson, draft, spotlight. Bookmark the permalink. ← Peyton Manning Works Out for Tennessee Titans [...]


March 20th, 2012
10:45 am

anybody know where Ingram from USCe is suppose to come off the board. He had a heck of a season last year

[...] 2012 NFL free agents not named Peyton Manning. I know; I was surprised too. St more… Draft spotlight: Clemson DE Andre Branch – Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) – blogs.ajc.com 03/20/2012 Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog)Draft spotlight: Clemson DE [...]


March 20th, 2012
11:41 am

Nash, Melvin Ingram will probably go somewhere in the middle of the first round.


March 20th, 2012
11:58 am

Has any one inquired as to why he didn’t lift?


March 20th, 2012
1:02 pm

Just heard that Rashard Mendenhall may not play for the Steelers again. At only 24, he’d be a great successor for Turner (if he could stay healthy).


March 20th, 2012
2:30 pm


that would be a great fit, he has the break away speed Turner lacks & has better hands out of the backfield. & SawThat1nce that’s a good question, it would have to be a player, one of our latter draft picks or a future draft pick. But that’s what TD gets paid to do, inquire what it would take. But it would take moving up to get this guys unless some major redflag is revealed medically concerning why he didn’t lift


March 20th, 2012
5:57 pm

HBCU Classic Sports
2012 Draft Board (1-64)


D. Orlando Ledbetter

March 20th, 2012
6:14 pm

J-bone — Somebody slips every year. There is a possibility Branch slips. Just a thought.


March 20th, 2012
7:15 pm

Why defensive ends when we do not use the ones we have drafted? With Sidbury and Matthews still waiting in the wings maybe we should focus on the o-line or a true 3-4 nose tackle.


March 21st, 2012
12:45 am

wow draft another DE? falcons havent even gave sidbury a chance whats the point of drafting him?

Real Falcon Fanatic

March 23rd, 2012
1:25 pm

The NY Giants proved that you can never have too many talanted D-lineman.