Mike T. hits the scouting trail

March, 8, 2012
3/08/12
8:18
AM ET
On Peyton Manning's first full day as a free agent, GM Mike Tannenbaum jumped on a plane and took off for ... South Carolina?

No, Manning isn't conducting a clandestine workout in South Carolina. On Thursday morning, Tannenbaum headed there to attend Clemson's Pro Day, according to a source.

This is interesting because Tannenbaum doesn't hit a ton of Pro Days during the pre-draft process; he relies on his scouting staff. The object of his curiosity is believed to be DE Andre Branch (6-4, 260), an athletic pass rusher rated 26th on Todd McShay's list of prospects. Mel Kiper rates Branch as the third-best DE, behind Quinton Coples (North Carolina) and Melvin Ingram (South Carolina).

Branch is intriguing because some believe he has the athleticism to make the switch to a 3-4 OLB, which makes him appealing to the Jets. Branch recorded 11 sacks last season and a total of 19 in his career.

Clemson also has two other prospects hoping to sneak into the first round: DT Brandon Thompson and TE Dwayne Allen.

UPDATE: Coach Rex Ryan also was in attendance and spent a few minutes working out Branch, according to an AP report.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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