After the beginning of this off-season, Howie Roseman is without a starting safety. Losing C.J. Gardner-Johnson to the Lions and Marcus Epps. There is a huge need for safety that can start on day one. In last year’s NFL season, there were a lot of starting rookie cornerbacks but not many starting safeties. If there were a stand-out rookie safety last season, it would probably be Kyle Hamilton for the Ravens. The Ravens drafted Kyle in the late first round. Howie will have to do the same thing this NFL draft. A great candidate for that role might be Brian Branch, a safety out of Alabama. Could Brian Branch be rolling into Philly?
Who is Brian Branch
Branch was a top-five safety prospect nationally out of Sandy Creek High School in Georgia, the school Pro Football Hall of Famer Calvin Johnson attended. Branch won the Georgia 5A Iron Man of the Year Award as a senior for his play on both sides of the ball. However, he stuck at safety in his true freshman year at Alabama, playing in 12 games with three starts (27 tackles, two INTs, seven PBUs) in their 2020 national championship season.
He played in all 15 games in 2021, starting seven times and leading the Tide with nine pass breakups (also recording 55 tackles, five for loss). Branch broke out as a second-team Associated Press All-American as a junior, starting all 13 games (90 tackles, 14 for loss with three sacks, two interceptions, and seven pass breakups. Branch ran a 4.58 40-yard dash at the NFL combine. As a hybrid cornerback/safety, his speed is not top-notch for a CB1 or CB2. But being a safety at that speed could be perfect.
As a defensive back, whether you are playing safety or cornerback, you need to have football smarts so that you can properly predict where the quarterback could be throwing the ball. C.J. Gardner-Johnson was converted from a cornerback into a successful safety, but I would not compare him to Branch. Instead, I would compare another former Eagles safety. Malcolm Jenkins has similar physical measurables to Branch, along with the smarts on the football field. Branch makes quick movements toward the ball to make dynamic plays. If Branch can bring just a little bit of that Jenkins Juice, then the Eagles’ secondary would be primed to take away a lot of possessions from the opposing offense.
Could Brian Branch be Rolling Into Philly?
The projected draft spot for Branch is 26th overall, but if he falls to the Eagles at 30th, then I would not be surprised if this rolling tide were to come to South Philly. It is true that the Eagles’ defense will not be the same as last season, but Howie really can’t go wrong with this selection, considering Branch would have already played with NFL-like talent. Get NFL draft coverage by clicking here.