6'4 1/4, 259 pounds | Defensive end | Clemson
Pass rush: What keeps Branch from being a top-level pass rusher is first step. He's not the quickest off the line of scrimmage. Is purely a speed rusher. Favorite move is the dip. Gets low around the edge. Once he gets going, Branch plays fast and has good counter moves to work inside or out. Doesn't play with a lot of power, however.
Plays with confidence in the rush game. When Branch knows he's better the offensive tackle he's against, he can be dangerous. That was evident against in his first game against Virginia Tech in 2011 when he had four sacks. He's a hot and cold player, though. Sacks came in spurts. Had 6.5 of his 10.5 sacks in 2011 in three games.
Pursuit: Plays with good pursuit and can work sideline to sideline. Branch's pursuit and on-field speed may get him looks at linebacker. Plays with good effort. Isn't a lazy player.
Run defense: If he's used as a linebacker, Branch could be excellent in the run game. He's fundamentally sound in open space and breaks down nicely. Strictly moving forward from his defensive end spot, Branch has trouble against the run because he'll overrun the play. That happens due to him being more of a speed rusher and not a power player.
Strength: Is much more of a speed player than a power player. Will need to get stronger in his lower half to drive blockers back instead of relying on getting outside. Has good upper body strength to make tackles. Has a hard time beating double teams.
Tackling: Really gets after it to chase down the ball carrier. Closes in a hurry. Has to learn how to wrap up better so he can take down his opponent in one-on-one situations.
Technique: For Branch to become more consistent, he'll need to learn how to use his hands better and Is much better than most ends in this year's draft at dropping back in coverage. Clemson had specific plays that called for Branch to play with his hand down but drop back in coverage. In doing so, Branch showed solid footwork and didn't take many false steps. Keeps good balance when he's dips his shoulder and comes around the edge.
Final word: Branch was the leader of a talented Clemson defense in 2011. He's one of the better speed rushers in this year's draft, but doesn't offer a lot as a power rusher. Because of that, he'll need to be put in the right scheme that can take advantage of his abilities. He should be able to transition nicely to linebacker because of his range. Branch played the Bandit position at Clemson, which asked him to play with his hand down and in the two-point stance.