Name: Brian Branch
Position: Defensive back
Ht/Wt: 6-0, 190
40-yard dash: 4.58 seconds
Bench: 14 reps
Vertical: 34.5 inches
3-cone: Did not run
20-yard shuttle: Did not run
View photos of NFL prospect Brian Branch.
How he fits: Branch primarily handled the nickel cornerback spot in Alabama's defense, but he can play either safety spots as well. An AP All-American this past season, Branch started all 13 games and recorded 90 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, three sacks, two interceptions and seven passes defended.
Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn talked at the Combine about wanting players in his secondary who are versatile with the ability to play both safety and jump down and play nickel cornerback. Recently signed veteran C.J. Gardner-Johnson is a great example of that. Branch is in that same mold.
His athletic traits don't jump off the paper, but watching the film he's a smart player who is always around the football and knows how to play the game from multiple spots. He's a young player who can impact a defense in multiple ways.
Key observations: He played 624 snaps in 2021, finishing the year with 37 receptions allowed from 382 coverage snaps, per Pro Football Focus statistics. This past season he was even better, producing an 89.5 PFF grade while allowing 36 receptions on 416 coverage snaps.
What they had to say about him: "Plug-and-play defensive back with every ingredient necessary to become a high-performing starter early in his career. Branch has primarily handled nickel coverage at Alabama but has the range and instincts for single-high or split safety looks. He's quick, fast and strong with the ability to match up with shifty slots, bigger possession receivers and pass-catching tight ends.
"He's urgent and has a mind for the game. He takes playmaking angles into the throwing lane but does have a tendency to play it a little safe from off-man coverage. There are areas where he can improve but no real weaknesses, which could make him one of the safest picks in the draft." – Lance Zierlein, NFL Analyst
How he stacks up: Branch is the No. 1 safety in the class per NFL.com Bucky Brooks' ranking of the top five players in the draft at each position.
Branch is the No. 16 overall prospect and the top safety in the class on Dane Brugler's Big Board for The Athletic. He is the No. 1 safety and No. 32 overall prospect via Daniel Jeremiah's Top 50 player ranking.
He's also the No. 1 safety available via ESPN's Scouts Inc., and they list him as an "outstanding prospect" with an 87 grade.
What he had to say: "I think versatility is a great selling point to the NFL," Branch said of his game at the Combine. "Let them know wherever they need me, I can play. Just being able to go out there and work on it, I feel like it's going to enhance my game in the long run in the future. I've just got to keep working at every position."