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Brian Branch: Getting to Know the Detroit Lions No. 45 Pick

With the 45th overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions selected Safety Brian Branch. Branch played three years at the University of Alabama.

Brian Branch Detroit Lions

Key Points:

  • The Detroit Lions selected Brian Branch with the 45th overall pick.
  • Branch played three seasons with the University of Alabama.

Brian Branch: Getting to Know the Detroit Lions No. 45 Pick

Branch played in 13 games for the Crimson Tide last season registering 90 total tackles, 14 of which were for losses; he had three sacks, two interceptions, and seven pass deflections. In his career at Alabama, he played in 35 games registering 172 total tackles, 19.5 tackles for loss, four sacks, three interceptions fumble recovery, and 23 pass deflections.

Scouting Report

Via Dane Brugler:

STRENGTHS: Quick-footed athlete with rangy movement skills across the secondary … naturally instinctive as a slot defender … sticky in man coverage and alert in zones … coordinated footwork to turn and run with receivers or plant, gather and go when he triggers plays in front of him … able to intercept angles because of his drive mechanics … calmly plays the ball well when he locates it … reactive athleticism limits big plays (allowed only one catch of 20-plus yards in 2022) … leverages
well in the run game and takes proper pursuit angles … comes to balance in space, squares and delivers pop as a tackler … above-average blitzing skills … plays well near the line (only three fewer tackles for loss than Will Anderson in 2022) … was a regular on kick and punt coverages over his three college seasons … had two punt returns (one muff and a 68-yard touchdown) … Alabama coaches single him out as one of the best competitors on the team (NFL scout: “Go back and watch the Arkansas tape. … It was like watching two different defenses before and after he was banged up.”) … legitimate position versatility, including practices at cornerback.

WEAKNESSES: Undersized by NFL standards with an average build and body type … only adequate length and limited growth potential … testing numbers were average-at-best … ordinary play strength is apparent when he tries to disengage from wide receiver blocks … allows too much cushion at times and can do a better job balancing his eyes between quarterback and route runner … looks to mix things up mid-route and was penalized five times in 2022 (all five were pass interference penalties) … played through minor injuries over his career, but NFL teams will have durability concerns because of his frame

Bottom Line

The Lions got their defensive back and it comes with a steal. Branch was expected to go late in round one and the Lions got him at pick 45. He will fit into this defense nicely and rounds out a secondary that should hold teams passing attacks. I love this pick and can’t wait to see the boost Branch provides.

Written by Chris Lavallee

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