The Detroit Lions have drafted Alabama safety Brian Branch with the No. 45 overall pick in the second round of the 2023 NFL Draft.
Branch’s versatility is one things that scouts have raved about with him. His ability to play any of the defensive back positions is important to NFL general mangers. He also has great ball skills and seems to always be breaking up passes. At the next level, he could improve on turning those pass break-ups into interceptions. He’s a great tackler and will come up to make a play. However, he over pursues at times and it can turn into a big play. His physicality is great, but can be too much at times. In the NFL, he could get called for many penalties if he is as handsy with wide receivers.
In 2022, Branch had 90 tackles including 14 tackles for loss. He also had two interceptions and nine pass deflection. Branch was named Second Team All-American and Second Team All-SEC following the season. Branch has been making an impact since his freshman year with the Crimson Tide. In all three years, he had nine pass deflections. He also has a ton of big time experience as he played in two College Football Playoffs.
How can Brian Branch impact the Lions in 2023?
Detroit signed CJ Gardner-Johnson in the offseason to be the team’s starting strong safety. Tracy Walker III is the incumbent free safety, but Branch could beat him out in training camp. It wouldn’t be shocking to see this happen with the experience that Branch has from his time at Alabama. Best case scenario, he pairs well with CJGJ as the starting safeties, and the worst-case scenario is that he switches in getting some experience before taking over his second year.