Brian Branch Draft Profile – 2023 NFL DRAFT
Brian Branch NFL Draft Scouting Report Introduction
Brian Branch is a standout junior prospect who has been a valuable asset to the Alabama secondary since his freshman year. His versatility as a player has been evident over the years as he has successfully transitioned to playing multiple positions across the defense. He has played as a deep safety, strong safety, nickel, linebacker, and even the end man in certain blitz packages.
Brian Branch was a standout player at Sandy Creek High School, where he excelled on both offense and defense, as well as special teams. As a senior, he was named the Georgia 5A Ironman of the Year by conference coaches, an award given to the league’s top two-way player. He was also selected to play in the All-American Bowl in San Antonio. Upon graduation, Branch was rated a 4-star prospect by 247 Sports, Rivals, and ESPN, with a scout’s rating of 0.97. Despite heavy recruitment, he ultimately chose to join the Alabama football team.
During his freshman year in 2020, Branch appeared in 11 games and played 290 snaps at slot corner for the Crimson Tide. He tallied 21 tackles, 4 assists, and 9 stops. In pass coverage, he recorded 5 pass breakups, 2 interceptions, and an impressive QB rating when targeted of 79.1.
In his sophomore year in 2021, Branch played in all 15 games and contributed 624 snaps for the Crimson Tide. He made 45 tackles, 11 assists, and had 22 stops. In coverage, he recorded 4 pass breakups, no interceptions, and had a slightly disappointing QB rating when targeted of 110.9. However, he also proved to be a capable pass rusher, notching 10 pressures and 2 sacks during the year.
In his junior year in 2022, Branch played in 12 games and contributed on 720 snaps. He recorded an impressive 63 tackles, 14 assists, and added 34 stops. In the secondary, Branch forced 6 pass breakups and one interception, while giving up a much improved QB rating when targeted of 75.5. He also added 6 total pressures and 2 sacks as a pass rusher over the course of the year.
Brian Branch DRAFT PROFILE
Branch’s instincts as a defender are impressive, and he is always around the football. His short-area quickness, acceleration, and high motor make him an excellent defender. Throughout his career at Alabama, Branch has played various positions, but he is most comfortable and productive closer to the line of scrimmage in the nickel/hybrid LB role.
As a defender in the box, the Alabama safety has great play recognition, and his athleticism allows him to cover any spot on the field. He is an efficient tackler and has good closing speed when playing in run support. On occasion, he is a physical and violent tackler, making him a tone-setter on defense.
When it comes to pass coverage, Branch excels in zone coverage, where he can read the QB’s eyes and jump routes, making him a disruptive defender. He also has the range to make plays on the ball and intercept passes in deeper portions of the field. Additionally, he is an effective blitzer, able to time up the snap and apply pressure to the quarterback.
Brian Branch FORTY YARD DASH- 4.44 SECONDS
Brian Branch NFL DRAFT Scouting PLAYER COMPARISON- Tyrann Mathieu/Antoine Winfield
SCOUTING REPORT- STRENGTHS
The defensive back, Brian Branch, has quietly transformed into one of the top cover corners in the nation in 2022. His excellent understanding of routes and the ability to close quickly make him a force to be reckoned with in zone coverage.
Branch is a strong defensive back, squatting an impressive 565 weight and power-cleaning 335. Additionally, he boasts great speed, having clocked 22.3 mph on the GPS system.
Branch’s versatility is a crucial asset that has made him a valuable player for his team. He can effectively play in the box as a strong safety, corner, nickel, or even deep free safety. His outstanding tackling skills make him a physical run supporter in the mold of Antoine Winfield. He has short-area explosiveness that allows him to make his mark against the ground game.
In terms of his ball skills, Branch tracks the ball well into the defensive backfield and has the hands and coordination to come away with interceptions, even when he isn’t targeted often. He stays low in his backpedal and demonstrates the click-and-close ability to break up plays in front of him. Furthermore, Branch can move well laterally and shows excellent instincts when looking into the backfield in zone coverage.
With his length and speed, Branch has the potential to emerge as a starter in two or three years down the line. His versatility, outstanding tackling skills, and ball-hawking ability make him a valuable asset to any defensive scheme. Overall, Branch is a talented and versatile defensive back who continues to make a name for himself in the world of college football.
SCOUTING REPORT- Weaknesses
Branch’s weakness as a player comes from his performance in slot-man coverage. When playing off-man coverage in the slot, he struggles to maintain his cushion against receivers, allowing them to beat him on vertical routes and create separation.
Additionally, in slot-man situations, receivers can get open by crossing his face on in-breaking routes. Of all the different situations, Branch appears most uncomfortable and has the most room for improvement in off-man alignments in the slot.
Brian Branch NFL DRAFT SUMMARY
In summary, Branch is a versatile defensive back who can make plus-level plays at every alignment. He is an intense and passionate player, which could help him become an influential team leader. Any team that drafts him would benefit from his abilities and character.
- Natural instincts and ball skills. Day 1 starter next season
- Can match with any receivers and could play position of nickel corner or safety in NFL
- Great production in his final season of Alabama career
- Struggles playing man in the slot
- Has the tools to pass rush off the blitz, but no experience of it in college
- Average lateral quickness and needs to be more aggressive as a turnover machine
NFL defenses would love to add a player of his caliber to their arsenal. The Alabama defensive back is an instant starter that would consistently bring a high level of production no matter how the defense decides to use him. His skills translate to more of a fluid use similar to Tyrann Mathieu. He can match on any receivers, cover tight ends in the seam, operate in open space, or take on blockers to create pressure.
We have him ranked as our 22nd overall prospect on our draft big board and the top safety in this draft class.