After yet another trade by Detroit Lions’ general manager Brad Holmes to move up to pick 45 of the 2023 NFL Draft, the Lions selected University of Alabama defensive back Brian Branch.
Branch was one of the more interesting prospects in this draft cycle for several reasons. In a lot of circles, Branch is highly thought of, capable of lining up at several positions in the secondary. He started for Nick Saban as a freshman, and has a ton of tape that illustrates his value at the next level.
However, because of some average testing numbers, Branch slid all the way to 45 after many pundits and analysts had him going in the first round earlier in the pre-draft process. Naturally, many around the draft community are labeling this selection as a massive steal for the Lions in the second round.
Branch joins what is now a completely retooled secondary in Detroit, and will have a plethora of players to soak up knowledge from during his rookie season. C.J. Gardner-Johnson, Cameron Sutton, and Tracy Walker are a few of the veterans Branch will be able to lean on as he gets used to being a pro.
And while Branch may not start any games in 2023, he gives Lions’ defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn another versatile player who is capable of lining up all over the secondary. Like the aforementioned Gardner-Johnson, Branch excels at playing up around the line of scrimmage, and is a playmaker when the ball is in the air.
Let’s get into some highlights and interviews of Branch’s time in Tuscaloosa.
Lions CB Brian Branch said he's a dog, and expected to go in the first round, but stayed for Night 2.— Brad Galli (@BradGalli) April 29, 2023
"A lot of teams missed out on it," he said. "I feel like being here was important. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity. I just wanted to enjoy this moment." pic.twitter.com/g8O9RUMofQ
What is more challenging: picking off Bryce Young or trying to tackle Najee Harris?@AlabamaFTBL’s Brian Branch shares his thoughts ⬇️— Up & Adams (@UpAndAdamsShow) April 26, 2023
: @FanDuelTV | @heykayadams | @BrianBB_1 | @ohthatsNajee22 | @_bryce_young pic.twitter.com/CsjqAKPrA4
Lions trade up to take Bama S Brian Branch at No. 45 pic.twitter.com/6hu8matbTJ— B/R Gridiron (@brgridiron) April 29, 2023
brian branch off the edge in blitz looks >— Kyron Samuels (@kyronsamuels) April 20, 2023
1st team all fitting shit. branch & witherspoon have no peers in the tackling category (for DB’s) in the 23’ class. pic.twitter.com/UfisyV1Nye
Alabama’s Brian Branch has the perfect mix of cover instincts, suddenness to trigger, take on skills, and patients + closing speed to be a complete weapon at nickel.— Bobby Football (@Rob__Paul) April 21, 2023
Only SAF worth a first-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. He’s can be a Tyrann Mathieu type for a defense. pic.twitter.com/MwqMQM8QkN