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NFL Draft profiles: How Brian Branch, Jahmyr Gibbs became centerpieces at Alabama

Our Detroit Lions 2023 NFL Draft profile series continues with Alabama’s Brian Branch and Jahmyr Gibbs.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 04 Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game - Miami v Alabama Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

One of the Detroit Lions’ most popular picks in the 2023 NFL Draft was Alabama defensive back Brian Branch. Projected by many to go in the first round, the Lions were able to scoop him up by jumping up a few spots in the second round.

That pick was preceded by one of the Lions’ most controversial picks. To kick off their draft class, the Lions selected another Bama player—running back Jahmyr Gibbs. No one denied Gibbs’ immense talent, but Detroit picked him 12th overall, far higher than mostly everyone had projected.

To discuss both players and how their game evolved and grew at Alabama, we chatted with BamaOnline’s Travis Reier this week.

Most notably, Reier explained how both Branch and Gibbs became centerpieces of what the Crimson Tide wanted to do on each side of the ball.

“The thing about Brian is you never ask yourself the question, ‘Alright, where did 14 go?’” Reier said. “He was always front and center. You could look at double-digit tackle performances, you can look at him in the pass rush. I think over the second half of the (2022) season, you saw a real alpha type emerge, more so than we had even seen with the good play he had put on tape prior to that.

“You started to look at that defense and think, ‘It starts with Brian Branch more so than Henry To’oto’o or Will Anderson or some other guys. There’s not a two or three interception game that he had, but in its totality, I really think, in the second half of the season especially, you can look at Brian and feel pretty good that that was the one guy you could count on week in and week out.”

Most of the podcast is focused on Branch, as we have one remaining episode solely devoted to Gibbs’ time at Georgia Tech. But here are the timestamps for each player:

  • Brian Branch discussion: 1:30 — 23:15
  • Jahmyr Gibbs discussion: 24:45 — 38:00

Listen to the entire show below:

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