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Can Brian Branch Be a Star in the Commanders’ Defense?

Hogs Haven takes a look at 2023 NFL Draft prospects that could contribute to the Commanders

Alabama v Ole Miss Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images

Brian Branch, DB

School: Alabama | Conference: SEC

College Experience: Junior | Age: 21

Height / Weight: 6’0” / 190 lbs

Projected Draft Status: 1st Round

Player Comparison: Minkah Fitzpatrick

College Statistics

Defense & Fumbles Table
Tackles Def Int Fumbles
Year School Conf Class Pos G Solo Ast Tot Loss Sk Int Yds Avg TD PD FR Yds TD FF
*2020 Alabama SEC FR DB 9 19 8 27 0.5 0.0 1 30 30.0 0 7 0 0
*2021 Alabama SEC SO DB 13 34 21 55 5.0 1.0 0 0 0 9 1 0
*2022 Alabama SEC SR DB 13 58 32 90 14.0 3.0 2 2 1.0 0 7 0 0 0 0
Career Alabama 111 61 172 19.5 4.0 3 32 10.7 0 23 1 0 0 0
Provided by CFB at Sports Reference: View Original Table
Generated 4/21/2023.
Punt & Kick Returns Table
Punt Ret Kick Ret
Year School Conf Class Pos G Ret Yds Avg TD Ret Yds Avg TD
*2020 Alabama SEC FR DB 9 0 0 0 0 0 0
*2021 Alabama SEC SO DB 13 0 0 0 0 0 0
*2022 Alabama SEC SR DB 13 2 65 32.5 1 0 0 0
Career Alabama 2 65 32.5 1 0 0 0
Provided by CFB at Sports Reference: View Original Table
Generated 4/21/2023.

Player Overview

Before playing for Alabama, Brian Branch left a mark at his high school in Fayetteville, Georgia. He ended his career there as the all-time leader in interceptions. A four-star recruit, and one of the top safeties in the nation, Branch chose to play for the Crimson Tide over Ohio State, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. In his first year in 2020, Branch played in 12 games and was named defensive player of the week in his very first start. He would start two more games that year, including the National Championship game. He’d continue his strong play the next season, leading the team with nine pass breakups on the year. In 2022, Branch took on the star position in Alabama’s defense. He had his most productive year yet; he was third on the team in tackles and second in tackles for a loss. Branch would earn All-American and All-SEC honors by the end of the season.


  • Uses instincts to fly around making plays all over the field
  • Excellent awareness in zone, keying on QB to break on ball
  • Locates ball in air with ability to get hands on it
  • Uses quickness to beat blockers to ball carriers
  • Sure tackler with good hitting power


  • Long-speed deficient
  • Not a lot of man coverage reps
  • Can struggle getting off blocks
  • Would like to see more interceptions

Let’s see his work

How he fits on the Commanders

It is becoming more and more obvious that the slot defender has become more and more important in football. With offenses trying to find the best matchups to exploit, having versatile defenders that can play in space is becoming imperative. Brian Branch is a player that offers that versatility. To get the most out of Branch, he has to be deployed strategically and creatively. While Branch can replace Bobby McCain as slot cornerback, he should not be limited to this role. To make the most of his ability, he should be used as slot cornerback and interchangeably with the safeties on the roster, especially Kam Curl. If Kam Curl is re-signed next year, Washington would have a pair of defensive backs that can align in the slot and do just about anything asked of them. If Curl is not re-signed, Branch could easily fill that role.