Brian Branch Draft Profile
Whether it is Deebo Samuel, Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, or Micah Parsons; every team is looking for at least one Swiss-Army knife that opens up what they can do with their scheme. For the Alabama Crimson Tide, that guy was defensive back Brian Branch. From lining up on the perimeter to coming down in the box, Branch moved all around their defense and was deployed to make plays and confuse opposing offenses. Branch is a smart player with good instincts; he does a good job at playing downhill and is a reliable tackler. While he is not going to make the most sensational highlight tackles, he will hold on for dear life and allow his teammates to rally to the football. He has a good downhill trigger that lets him shine at the first and second level. Despite not being the most athletic player in the world, Branch is a play-maker who has a knack for making crucial stops in the box. He flies around the field and is always around the ball. In the run game, he is able to see beyond his blockers and pursues creative routes to make the tackle. Branch is a Swiss-army knife, but master of none.
It is really hard to be a good defensive back in this league with average to below-average speed and average change of direction abilities. Tennessee wide receiver, Jalin Hyatt, exposed Branch’s lack of speed by running right up the seam for over 200 yards and five touchdowns. Branch will need to find ways to contribute in coverage and not be a liability for his team at the third level. Which ever team drafts him will defensive backs coach will need to show Branch how to use his physicality to re-route receivers and prevent them from getting over the top of him. While he does contribute in the box, he will need to learn ways to disengage with oncoming offensive linemen. Branch makes the majority of his plays with his speed (in comparison to lineman) and by not letting them get a hold of him. If he is tasked with playing the box, he will need to get better at using his hands to disengage from blocks.
While Branch has high football intelligence and does a good job playing downhill, I believe his physical limitations will cause him to struggle in coverage especially at the third level. He reminds me of Titans defensive back, Amani Hooker, and I believe he should be used in a similar role for what ever team drafts him. While he is projected to go towards the end of round one or start of day two, I have a third round grade on him. I believe the Cardinals, Eagles, and Cowboys are all teams that can find ways to build around his strengths and hide his weaknesses.
Hips + Feet: 10/12
Physicality and Toughness: 9.5/12
Confidence + Mindset: 8.5/10
Football IQ + Trigger: 8.75/10
Tackling Reliability + Play-Making in Open Space: 6.5/8
Reactive Athleticism + Change of Direction: 5.75/8
Ball Skills: 6/8
Final Rating: 79
Team Fits: Cardinals, Eagles, Cowboys
Pro Comparison: Amani Hooker
Draft Projection: Late Round 1 - Early Round 2
Draft Grade: 3rd Round Pick