Brian Branch BLOWS UP Cole Beasley in first game with Detroit Lions
Heading into the 2023 NFL Draft, many believed the Detroit Lions could potentially use the No. 18 overall pick to select DB Brian Branch out of Alabama. Instead, the Lions were able to land Branch in the second round (No. 45 overall), and he may just end up being the steal of the draft. On Friday night, Branch showed exactly why the Lions are so excited about him as he absolutely destroyed New York Giants wide receiver Cole Beasley.
Branch Unloads on Beasley
Take a look as Branch looks like he was shot out of a cannon before blowing up Beasley for a loss of yards.
Making the Most out of an Opportunity
While C.J. Gardner-Johnson was sidelined for a while earlier in training camp, Branch stepped up in the nickel position and increased his chances to be a starter. For a second-round pick like Branch, this not only highlights his skills but also marks a significant shift in the team's defensive approach. This flexibility could see Gardner-Johnson return to his safety role, presenting the Lions with a dynamic duo in the defensive backfield. As preseason progresses, both Coach Dan Campbell‘s choices and Branch's on-field displays will shed light on the Lions' strategic direction.
“I think sometimes this may get lost with C.J., he’s an excellent communicator,” Lions coach Dan Campbell said Wednesday. “Excellent communicator, and so you just kind of see the growth of he and Kerby together and I believe it’s elevated Kerby’s game as well.
“So you potentially have a couple dynamic safeties back there that have versatility. So that’s what we like about that, having him back there and knowing he can play nickel, certainly.”
“It’s early but he’s one of those guys, you kind of see the lightbulb,” Dan Campbell said earlier this summer. “What showed up on the tape in college is beginning to show up already, up here, quickly. He’s an instinctive guy. He’s got some ballhawk ability.”
TL;DR (too long didn't read)
- Promising Draft Decision:
- The Detroit Lions' choice to draft DB Brian Branch from Alabama with the No. 45 overall pick in the second round, rather than the anticipated No. 18 overall, is looking to be a prudent decision. Branch's recent performance, especially against New York Giants' Cole Beasley, showcases his potential value, with some even suggesting he could be the steal of the draft.
- Branch's Adaptability and Value:
- In the absence of C.J. Gardner-Johnson during training camp, Brian Branch exhibited his adaptability by taking on the nickel position. This move has amplified his chances of being a regular starter for the team. With Gardner-Johnson potentially returning to the safety role, the Lions might boast a formidable pair in the defensive backfield, signaling a change in their defensive strategy.
- Coach Dan Campbell's Positive Feedback:
- Lions coach Dan Campbell praised Branch's rapid development and instinctive playstyle. Gardner-Johnson's commendable communication skills have seemingly enhanced the game of his peers, hinting at the potential of a versatile and dynamic duo of safeties. Campbell's remarks about Branch's innate “ballhawk ability” and his instinctive nature indicate high hopes for the player's future impact on the team.
Bottom Line: So Far, So Good
The Detroit Lions' strategic decision to draft Brian Branch in the second round is quickly proving to be a masterstroke. Branch's exceptional performance and adaptability on the field, combined with Gardner-Johnson's skilled communication, hint at a transformative defensive future for the Lions. Coach Dan Campbell's glowing commendations for Branch further underscore his potential to be a game-changing asset, suggesting the Lions could have a formidable defensive duo to reckon with in the upcoming seasons.