A pass rusher who is on the Jets’ radar Dan Leberfeld
It’s time for another edition of Dan’s Draft Notebook. The Jets seem to be in market for another pass rushing outside linebacker, and there is a kid who is rising up the charts who seems to have caught Rex Ryan’s attention . . .
At the Clemson Tigers’ recent Pro Day, it seemed like Rex Ryan was paying pretty close attention to a certain player. You have to wonder if he’s a consideration for the Jets in the first round.
At the Pro Day, Ryan ran the workout of outside linebacker Andre Branch.
Gil Brandt told me recently that Ryan seemed very interested in the kid at Clemson that day.
Branch is a 6-4, 259 pounder, who ran under 4.7 at the combine.
He looks right out of central casing to play 3-4 OLB with his size, speed and long arms.
Branch’s career at Clemson was somewhat pedestrian until his senior year, when he took his game to another level, with 10.5 sacks and 72 tackles. He earned first-team All-ACC as a senior.
While 16 might be a little high for him, it wouldn’t be that much of a reach.
With his strong showing at the combine and at Clemson’s Pro Day, the consensus is that he’s moved himself into the back of the first round.
Not only does he had a nice size-speed ration and impressive pass rushing skills, but what has to make him appealing to the Jets is that he’s already pretty good in coverage. So often, college defensive ends start from scratch in space when they jump to the NFL, but this kid did cover in college, and did a pretty good job.
On the down side are a few things. His instincts are average, sometimes locating the ball a step later. Also, his hips are a little stiff, which could hurt him a little playing space.
Also, he’s dealt with back issues in the past, and this will have to be checked out thoroughly.
It’s interesting to note, the Jets have a similar prospect out of Clemson already on their roster in Ricky Sapp, who is almost the same size, and runs in the same vicinity as Branch.
There is so much talk about the Jets adding another pass rusher high in the draft, but the X-Factor in there thinking at OLB has to be Sapp.
Some people thought he was on the road to being a first round pick, but he hurt his knee late in his career at Clemson, and this dragged down his performance as a senior, and downgraded him in the draft. And then he had a knee setback as a rookie with Philadelphia (they picked him the fifth round of the 2010 draft).
If he’s finally healthy this summer, keep an eye on this kid. He was a five-star recruit for Clemson, and looked terrific for the Tigers before the knee injury.
Branch is probably a longshot for the Jets at 16, but if they trade back, he would be a strong possibility, or in the second round.
And he seems to be on Rex Ryan’s radar.
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