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  1. #1
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    So what's the deal with Alan Branch?

    Once (and depending on who you talk to, still) graded as a Top 5-6 pick in this draft, it would seem there have been growing concerns about Michigan defensive tackle Alan Branch. Consider the following...

    Scout.com's combine report about Branch said: Branch worked hard and ran reasonably well in the forty. And while he flashed athleticism he quickly faded during the practice session and seemed out of shape. His stock is slipping. Several teams we spoke with at today's workouts said were it any ordinary player from any ordinary program they'd probably stamp him with a third round grade. Expect Branch to make a Jimmy Kennedy like fall in the draft.

    Recently, Mel Kiper dropped Branch down his big board. Once near the top, Branch currently appears at 24 and is Kiper's third ranked defensive tackle available in this class behind Louisville's Amobi Okoye and Tennessee's Justin Harrell.

    Now that Michigan has had their pro day, more concerning reports are starting to come in. From NFL.com's Gil Brandt: Branch ran the short shuttle in 4.81 seconds and the three-cone drill in 7.50. Kansas City defensive line coach Tim Krumrie worked Branch hard during the position drills, and the scouts there said Branch did not look like he was in very good shape.

    Scout.com offers a similar assessment: Alan Branch did not fare as well. Just as we reported at the combine, Branch looked sluggish and out of shape during the position drills.

    Furthermore, NFL Draft Scout's Rob Rang also indicated that Branch's stock may be slipping. The site's profile on Branch lists the following recent news: Michigan's Pro Day isn't until March 16, and with a solid workout at the Combine, Branch won't necessarily have anything to gain. The concern scouts have is the more they put in the film, the more concerned they are that Branch was simply able to over-power collegiate players. Even his most ardent supporters would agree that Branch isn't your typical playmaking defensive tackle, and his pass rush skills will never earn comparisons to Warren Sapp. Still, for a player who is thought to be a physically dominant presence, Branch was so meek in Combine interviews with teams that some are a little worried he'll struggle to adapt to the intensity of the pro game. Don't expect Branch to drop far. Houston, Miami, Atlanta and San Francisco, teams selecting between No. 8 and No. 11 overall, all could use help inside. However, Branch's status as a top five pick is in question.

    So should teams be wary of the large Michigan lineman? Is Branch really slipping down on draft boards because of concerns about his work ethic and motivation? Or are the labels of being sluggish and out of shape not exceptionally out of the ordinary for a man of his massive size?

    Discuss.

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  2. #2
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    Re: So what's the deal with Alan Branch?

    If he is on the board, with our need for a NT how do we get away from this pick? Itís like having a pair of Kings, you are playing heads up, the only problem is the guy you are playing has trips, you donít see an ace on the board. What are you going to do? Itís the right play. If he is there and Amobi Okoye is gone we have too take him right? We have such a big need!

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    Re: So what's the deal with Alan Branch?

    alex barron was suppose to be a top 5 pick before he dropped a couple years back as well... i believe the same will go for mr.branch as well...

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    jim
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    Re: So what's the deal with Alan Branch?

    This is where Softli and his group earn their money. At some point don't all players have to answer the "how much do you want to play"? question? Moses, the CB from Fresno, the RB from Arizona, just some that quickly come to mind. Then I suppose you have to fight the DL coach that says I can get it out of this guy. It would seem the biggest challenge in drafting anyone is how much desire the player has. Branch is guaranteed millions of dollars because he will be drafted in the first round. If knowing that he has not given a full effort in the last few weeks obviously it is a red flag. On the other hand if he has some type of minor injury or personal problem not allowing him to perform at his best then Softli needs to know that so the Rams can take advantage if he is there at #13. MY question to you Nick, what steps do NFL teams take in situations like this? Do they hire private investigators to find out more about his private life (drugs, alcohol, girlfriend)? Do they sit down with his college position coach for in-depth talks. Or do they just look at the tapes and go from there? Thanks

  5. #5
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    Re: So what's the deal with Alan Branch?

    I used to be one of his biggest critics, but now I really hope we get Akoye. The kid is a class act all the way and you can almost guerentee that he will bust his ass to get better on and off the field. It seems like Branch is a Jimmy Kennedy look alike. This is a tuff spot for the coaches, because I don;t no if they can pass on Branch f e falls to them. I wouldn't be mad if we got him, or passed on him for Timmons, Landry, or Willis. I think it is just a situation where you gotta go with your best option and hope for the best.

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    Re: So what's the deal with Alan Branch?

    Branch is a scary prospect. I don't know why he ahs such an inconcsitant effort.

    If he is there I don't know how the Rams pass on him he is an elite talent in my eyes. I think the problem with Kennedy was not the player but the situation he came into.

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    HUbison's Avatar
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    Re: So what's the deal with Alan Branch?

    It appears to be a simple equation so far.......Alan Branch = Jimmy Kennedy

    Both were dominant collegiate DTs with work ethic concerns at the next level. Roll the dice, if you want, but we don't even have Kennedy straightened out yet, and we want to do it all over again?

    Being one of the last remaining torch-bearers for Kennedy, I feel I have the right to say......most Rams fans don't want the Jimmy Kennedy we have, why would they consider a 2nd Jimmy Kennedy on board?
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

  8. #8
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    Re: So what's the deal with Alan Branch?

    Quote Originally Posted by HUbison View Post
    It appears to be a simple equation so far.......Alan Branch = Jimmy Kennedy

    Both were dominant collegiate DTs with work ethic concerns at the next level. Roll the dice, if you want, but we don't even have Kennedy straightened out yet, and we want to do it all over again?

    Being one of the last remaining torch-bearers for Kennedy, I feel I have the right to say......most Rams fans don't want the Jimmy Kennedy we have, why would they consider a 2nd Jimmy Kennedy on board?
    Both were also notably out of shape in the offseason; definitely not a good sign of personal discipline, especially considering they could stand to lose literally millions of dollars because of this issue. If that can't motivate them, what can? All signs point to a big NO on Branch and I hope some other team bites on him before the Rams pick.

    On the other hand, if two negatives make a positive... would two Jimmy Kennedys make a Ryan Pickett?

    :l

    -jake-

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    Re: So what's the deal with Alan Branch?

    Quote Originally Posted by HUbison View Post
    It appears to be a simple equation so far.......Alan Branch = Jimmy Kennedy
    I don't think it's that simple at all...?

    Pro Bowl DT Shaun Rogers has weight issues and is criticized for an inconsistent motor at times, but despite those criticisms, he's one of the top players in the league at that position.

    Last year's top nose tackle prospect Haloti Ngata had the same criticisms leveled at him - "doesn't play with a sense of urgency on every snap," "has not proven that he works very hard off the field to stay in shape," "clearly soft bodied and not in the best of shape." And yet he was a very important cog to the Baltimore Ravens defensive line as a rookie and did well on the interior.

    These are the kinds of things that tend to come out when prospects are put under the intense microscope of numerous spring workouts and drills. Teams are looking for anything that might be the slightest hint that he's not going to work out, and I'm sure some teams put it out there just to have it out there. That's not to say that it isn't true, but I don't think a 320-lbs man not giving it all on every single down and not being in the best of shape is as big a red flag as some seem to believe it is.

    I just don't see how we can pass on a guy whose expertise is plugging up the middle and stopping the interior run when that's hands down our biggest weakness right now. If you base your draft around skipping over talented players because you're afraid they're going to turn out like past failures, then you're not going to have a very successful offseason IMO.
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    Re: So what's the deal with Alan Branch?

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick View Post


    I just don't see how we can pass on a guy whose expertise is plugging up the middle and stopping the interior run when that's hands down our biggest weakness right now. If you base your draft around skipping over talented players because you're afraid they're going to turn out like past failures, then you're not going to have a very successful offseason IMO.
    We weren't afraid to take Jimmy Kennedy ...

  11. #11
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    Re: So what's the deal with Alan Branch?

    The Sporting News has offered a different view of the Michigan pro day that I thought would be interesting to note here...

    Defensive tackle Alan Branch weighed in at 328 pounds, and although he was somewhat disappointing in the overall view of his workout, it was not nearly as bad as it's been reported. He clearly showed that he is a quick-footed and agile man with surprising athleticism for such a big tackle, especially looking good in shuttles. He did not look to be in the best shape and tired quickly during drills, but Branch deserves much credit for going through the infamously grueling "Tim Krumrie workout". Branch refused to quit and battled through fatigue to finish, something several defensive tackles are unable or unwilling to do.

    Additionally, because Branch is rated so highly on many teams' boards, he was put through an extremely tough workout for a defensive tackle, doing much more than most other defensive tackles do in their individual workouts. Although Branch certainly did not help himself during his workout, he did not hurt himself nearly as much as what the buzz has been. . . .
    Food for thought.
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  12. #12
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    Re: So what's the deal with Alan Branch?

    Good food, Nick! ...No doubt, it's a tough decision -- to go or not to go -- for DT Alan Branch. The pros and cons are both very important and we have a somwhat foggy crystal ball before us (despite the many years of experience that NFL coaches have on selecting collegiate stars).

    For me, at this point of reading and learning a little about a few DL prospects ... if we had a choice, I'd feel more at ease and content with one Adam Carriker on our roster.

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    Re: So what's the deal with Alan Branch?

    I don't think it's that simple at all...?
    Well, if he falls to 13, then hopefully you're right. As I said elsewhere, IF he's there at 13, and one of my top 7 defenders (I have Branch #8) isn't there, then take him.....#8 is still better than #9. But the red flags are mounting, and I'm not convinced he will be THE answer that some are thinking. Maybe he is, but he looks less like the answer now than he did a few months ago.

    But again, for the record, I'm not against Branch as a Ram; he's just not as high up my board as others.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

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    Re: So what's the deal with Alan Branch?

    Quote Originally Posted by HUbison View Post
    Well, if he falls to 13, then hopefully you're right. As I said elsewhere, IF he's there at 13, and one of my top 7 defenders (I have Branch #8) isn't there, then take him.....#8 is still better than #9. But the red flags are mounting, and I'm not convinced he will be THE answer that some are thinking. Maybe he is, but he looks less like the answer now than he did a few months ago.

    But again, for the record, I'm not against Branch as a Ram; he's just not as high up my board as others.
    I think that the Rams will miss on

    1. Amobi Okoye
    2. Gaines Adams
    3. Jamaal Anderson
    4. Laron Landry
    5. Pat Willis

    At this point I am for moving down.

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