- Height: 6’0”
- Weight: 193 lbs
- College: Alabama
- Year: Junior
- Position: Defensive Back
An extremely versatile player Brian Branch has all the hallmarks of a defensive chess piece at the next level. With his bounds of physicality and athleticism, Branch will be an early pick and potential 1st rounder.
Born in Fayetteville, Georgia, Brian Branch attended Sandy Creek High School. At high school Branch also played receiver and contributed on special teams while being a stand-out defensive back. A winner of multiple awards including All-County Defensive Player of the Year and being selected as the Georgia 5A Ironman of the Year, By the end of his high school career, Branch was Sandy Creek’s all-time leader in career interceptions.
Branch left high school as a consensus 4-star recruit, 3rd-rated safety and the 72nd-rated player overall in his recruitment class. He committed to Alabama over Tennessee, Ohio State and Oklahoma.
At Alabama, Brian Branch has contributed in multiple positions. Showcasing his insane versatility and football intelligence.
Branch has been extremely productive at Alabama, especially in the tackling department. In 2020 Branch had 27 tackles, including 19 solo. He also had 2 interceptions and 7 passes deflected. Then in the 2021 season Branch continued his high-end production. Contributing 55 tackles, 9 passes deflected, a sack and a fumble recovery.
An extremely versatile defensive weapon, NFL defensive coaches should be excited to get a hold of such a promising and productive prospect. While he is a safety by nature, being labelled a defensive back with bounds of versatility is more accurate.
Watch the video below which shows Brian Branch’s athleticism and physicality.
The key to Brian Branch’s scouting report is his versatility. He is a versatile and adaptable player who is used as a moving chess piece in the Alabama defence. His play is varied and translates to any defensive position. He has and will continue to line up everywhere on the Alabama defence. He thrives in a 2 high-safety look where he can manifest all of his skills and talents, but he can also drop in the box and play the line while also being able to play nickel and dime.
Brian Branch is able to play down in the box, almost as a hybrid linebacker. He is more than effective doing this due to his physicality, tackling ability and athleticism. He can blitz the qb and negotiate his way into the backfield tracking down quarterbacks and running backs.
Due to Branch’s reliability in coverage, he also has a lot of snaps from the slot. He is sticky in coverage and his command of the defence makes him a legitimate option from the slot at the next level. Nick Saban said in a preseason press conference “[he] could actually play corner if we needed him to. We do practice him there”. This mixed usage has given Branch an opportunity to showcase his full portfolio of skills and has made him a well-rounded defensive back.
Branch also shows intense discipline and organisation. He is able to hit all of his assignments, he processes the field well and is able to recognise routes and concepts well. He is an instinctively intelligent player whose cleverness will always translate to the next level.
Branch may be on the slimmer side, but that doesn’t diminish from the fierce physicality he plays with. He is tough, he is physical, he is tenacious. Branch is able to play much bigger than his size would suggest. He shows ultimate play-hard and get-after-it mentality.
When racing downhill he will come after you and hit you hard, especially when chasing down runners with the ball in hand and especially when taking strides into the backfield. He has no filter to hitting hard but fairly, but his tackles can be crunching.
When it comes to his tackling, Branch is as reliable of a tackler as you will find. In his first 2 seasons prior to the 2022 season, Branch had only missed 1 tackle in his college career. That included no missed tackles in the entire 2021 season. That bodes extremely well for his pro career. He is an exceptional talent and that stat just backs it up. He takes good angles into his tackles and wraps his opponents up easily. He is will be secure as the last line of defence where he can utilise this favourable ability to make big defensive stops.
When attacking running downs, Branch is able to get off his blocks, shedding his opponent to get after the football. His high-end physicality and mentality give him an excellent non-stop motor.
What underpins all of Branch’s ability though is his outstanding athleticism. His speed is remarkably quick and gives him the ability to reach sideline to sideline and all areas of the field. When attacking the box his high-end agility and active footwork mean he has great short area burst. He is able to change direction promptly and explode off blocks, into space and attacking the football.
This question will be repeated over and over; what is Brian Branch’s best position?
Could Branch’s greatest asset also be his vital flaw? There is potential for him to be labelled a jack of all trades but a master of none. However, in reality, that would depend on how teams evaluate him. But let there be little doubt about the impact Branch could have as a potential ‘Star’ hybrid playmaker.
When it comes to his evaluation teams will of course project Branch differently depending on their need and defensive scheme. If they see him as more of a slot player then Branch will need to improve on his coverage skills.
While he can stick with receivers he will need to control his hands more. He can get grabby which will cause pass interference calls. He could also do with improving his hip fluidity. Especially when running deep his ball tracking and athletic technique needs refinement. He will also need to work on his ball skills where he could have better production taking the ball away, he has left interceptions on the field.
While he is more than effective in this role, Branch will be just as effective in a 2-high look. His tackling ability and physicality are his primary traits. Working the backfield and using his tackling ability to combat the last line of defence will be just as useful.
Lastly, Branch is not the biggest or bulkiest of players. His frame is slight and teams may require him to attempt to add weight. While this of course does not take away from his tackling ability or physicality, adding some weight won’t harm his ability in the NFL. Despite his slighter frame, Branch does have really good length which will aid his playmaking ability in the NFL.
Versatile, athletic and physical. Brian Branch has core traits to bet on in the NFL.
Being able to display explosiveness, footwork, coverage abilities, tackling abilities and acute athleticism makes him a viable option at any defensive position. He can impact both the passing game and running game while lining up all over the field.
The biggest factor in Branch’s draft outlook will be based on how teams view him and what each team believe his best position to be. Branch is scheme diverse though and being able to move him about, disguising his looks will be extremely beneficial to defences.
If your team has an established defence who is looking to slot in that final chess piece and playmaker, Brian Branch is a safe pick.
How good of a prospect is Brian Branch? Let us know over on Twitter @NinetynineYards
You can check out this YouTube playlist for all our 2023 Draft Talk content!