Brian Branch - S - Alabama
Welcome to the rookie profile for Brian Branch. Branch is a multi-talented defensive back who can and will play at an elite level all over the field as shown in his time at Alabama. He operates best as a lockdown cornerback and not as a slot corner. He doesn’t have high end speed, as such he sometimes struggles to keep the smaller, shiftier slot receivers in check and is best suited to cover the bigger, slower X receivers.
Branch showed elite skills in college as a lockdown corner and had little difficulty in limiting the production of even the leagues most elite receivers.
Height: 6′ 0″
Weight: 190 lbs
40-yard dash: 4.58
3-cone drill: DNP
20-yard shuttle: DNP
Vertical Jump: 34.5″
Broad Jump: 10’5″
Bench Press: 14 reps
Branch was a 4-star recruit out of Sandy Creek High School before he joined the Crimson Tide.
In 2020 as a freshman cornerback, Branch played in 9 games for Alabama. He recorded 19 tackles and 8 assists while chipping in one interception and seven passes defensed.
As a sophomore in 2021 he played in 13 games for Alabama. Branch recorded 34 tackles and 21 assists will defending 9 passes.
In his junior season with Alabama in 2022, Branch played in 13 games. In those 13 games he recorded 58 tackles and 32 assists while intercepting two passes and defending an additional seven.
Branch is an elite lockdown cover corner in coverage, he anticipates routes like few defenders in this draft class.
He is widely considered as the best cover corner in all of college football and it’s easy to see a path to him being a Pro Bowl level corner in the NFL.
Branch possesses rare positional versatility and can line up as a corner, nickel, strong safety or free safety and can excel at all of them.
He takes pride in refining his tackling technique and rarely misses a tackle, he has a nose for the ball and has a knack for getting himself into prime position to knock down or even intercept passes whenever the ball is thrown in his direction.
Brian Branch doesn’t have elite speed and sometimes struggles to keep up with the receivers who have elite speed. The true breakaway speeders often force him into panic mode causing him to take holding or pass interference penalties just to keep them from breaking off a long touchdown.
He cannot be left in 1 on 1 coverage against a speedy receiver as they will pile up yards and he will pile up penalties. He profiles much more as an outside corner left to cover an X type receiver on the perimeter.
Pre Draft Analysis
Expected Draft Capital-Late Round 1
Ideal Landing Spot- Detroit Lions
The Lions are an emerging contender and lack talent in the secondary, Branch is the perfect addition to that. The Lions can play him on the outside against the opposing team’s Alpha receiver while their supporting cast covers the speedy receivers in the slot. The Lions have more than enough draft capital and could easily use the second of their first-round picks to select Branch. This is the optimal landing spot for him, if he is drafted by this up-and-coming team the sky is the limit on where he could go in the future.
Post Draft Analysis
Detroit Lions – Round 2, Pick 45
The branch may turn out to be the steal of the draft. He was anticipated to go in the first round but somehow slipped to the Lions in the middle of round two, which was a redeeming pick for the Lions who had gone completely off the rails up to that point. He profiles to be a high-level safety on a Lions team that lacks any real talent at the position. He will step into a starting role as a rookie and even though he is likely to feel some growing pains he will flourish in the league. He played his college career at Alabama and the talent in the SEC may rival that of many of the NFC rosters, so he should have little difficulty adjusting to the next level.
As far as rookie defensive backs go for IDP leagues, Branch will be one of the best values. He went at pick 45 and thus will slip down defensive draft boards leaving him as a steal for fantasy managers. Rookies tend to be targeted until they prove themselves in the league and his rookie year totals in both interceptions and passes defensed could be massive.