As the NFL season wraps up, FantasyPros will take a look at early scouting reports from the NFL ahead of the March combine. Here’s a look at Brian Branch.
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2023 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Brian Branch (DB – Alabama)
Brian Branch (DB-Alabama)
6’0″ – 193 pounds.
Four-star recruit who played strong as a freshman, totaling 290 snaps and finishing with 27 tackles, seven breakups and two interceptions. Got into a starting role the following season, going 55-5.0-1.0 with nine stoppages, then had an even more impressive junior campaign of 90-14.0-3.0 with two interceptions and seven stoppages.
Comes with two years of starting experience for one of college football’s top programs. Has done a little bit of everything, but mostly falls into the slot or plays out of the box, with relatively limited snaps as free security. Good overall balance, coordination and speed. Shows clean footwork and weight distribution in games where he works from a high alignment. Rarely out of position. Does a good job of keeping the game ahead with enough depth in its drops. Handles route combos well out of the zone. Seamless transitions from retiring to driving in place. Uses his hands well to feel routes and stay connected through the stem. Mal hits well at glass throws loose. Solid on-ball production in cover. Works well in screen play through traffic. Good positioning, extension and contact balance when taking on blocks in the running game. Maintains leverage from the outside to the hopper. Gets physical with opposing ball carriers, engages with appropriate wrap technique and creates some pop on contact. Used quite a bit as a blitzer, showing the ability to time snaps, go low and slide through blockers and take fast lanes.
A limited number of snaps used as free security means he needs some imagination to project himself into a traditional security role. Wasn’t asked to step back too much or play in high zones too much. Might be too small to last in opposing tight ends. Burst to close when driving in one spot is just about enough; relies more on recognition skills and timing.
A polished, pro-ready defender who seems to do everything well, with excellent technique and diagnostic skills that should allow him to make contributions early in his pro career, he is rightly considered one of the safest defenders in the class despite his Role playing in college, having mostly played the “star” nickel position in Nick Saban’s defense, didn’t involve overly high coverage so some projection may be required depending on which team drafts him. With teams in the modern league mostly playing in sub-packages, it seems likely that one of the top 40 or so will be knocked out on draft day.
Projection: Round 1-2
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