2023 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Brian Branch
By Charlie Campbell
Summary: Branch was a solid defender and underrated player in college football over the past three seasons. He put together a solid debut season in 2020, collecting 27 tackles, two interceptions and seven breakups. In 2021, Branch recorded 55 tackles and nine passes broken up. The junior turned in his best season in 2022, racking up 90 tackles, three sacks, two interceptions and seven passes broken up. He was always around the ball and made some big plays for the Crimson Tide defense.
Branch is a dynamic defender in the middle of the field thanks to being extremely well-rounded. What really sets him apart is how his fabulous instincts put him in position to impact the game. Branch is very smart and is extremely fast at reading his keys to get in position to make plays.
With his skill set and versatility, Branch looks like a real weapon for a pro defense. He can play the roaming safety role in the middle of the field because his instincts put him in position to make plays on the ball. Branch is very good in zone coverage, where he reads plays well to disrupt passing lanes, covers up receivers, and makes clutch tackles downfield. Along with being a fantastic zone safety, Branch is a dangerous blitzer who displays fantastic vision, the strength to fight through blocks, and tremendous closing speed.
Another great attribute that Branch possesses is the ability to play nickel corner. He is good in man coverage at lining up over the slot receiver and preventing separation. Branch even can play man coverage on tight ends, and his pro defense is going to love having him to help neutralize the elite receiving tight ends of the NFL.
Branch also is a threat to take the ball away downfield. He tracks the pass extremely well and shows nice ball skills. For a defensive back, Branch has excellent hands. He is a real threat to create interceptions and make game-changing plays for his defense.
In the ground game, Branch can drive downhill and tackle in the box. He is very adept at making open-field tackles and preventing offenses from breaking big plays. Branch flies around the field and is always around the ball. He is a willing tackler and will dish out some hard hits. Branch doesn't hesitate to get physical in the secondary and will rock ball-carriers. For the NFL, it might help him to gain 5-10 pounds of muscle to help tackle pro backs and receivers.
Branch could have Pro Bowl potential in the NFL as a versatile safety and nickel corner who can do a lot of things and erase mismatches. He is worthy of being a first-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Player Comparison: Minkah Fitzpatrick/Tyrann Mathieu. Branch is a tough player to compare because he is rather unique with his ability to play cornerback and safety. Perhaps the closest thing to Branch are defenders like Fitzpatrick and Mathieu. All three of them have all shown the ability to play safety or slot corner, and they are versatile instinctive defenders. Team sources have said Branch reminds them of Fitzpatrick at Alabama.
2023 NFL Mock Draft: Charlie's | Walt's
2023 NFL Draft Prospect Rankings
2023 NFL Draft Scouting Reports
2023 NFL Mock Draft - March 28
2024 NFL Mock Draft - Feb. 19
NFL Power Rankings - Feb. 17
NFL Picks - Feb. 14
Fantasy Football Rankings - Sept. 7
© 1999-2023 Walter Cherepinsky : all rights reserved
2 5 9
2 5 9