Heading into the 2023 NFL Draft, Alabama's Brian Branch could have easily commanded a position group all to himself among the rest of this year's top prospects.
"Defensive playmaker" would have been the most accurate descriptor, but while many slotted him in as either a safety or a cornerback, the catch-all "defensive back" was the most popular.
Projected by many to be a first-round selection, Branch slipped to the second round, where the Detroit Lions wisely snatched him up, continuing their offseason overhaul on the back end of their defense.
Now entrenched with his new team, Branch is looking to make the most of his versatile skill set.
"Thankfully, Alabama prepared me. I got a little advantage," Branch said recently (via the Lions' official website). "Just studying the playbook every day. That's how you learn it."
"I have to learn every position because you never know. Easiest way to get on the field."
The Lions added a veteran this offseason with a similar skill set in Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, giving them two dynamic weapons to deploy at all levels of the field this season.
Detroit's brass are excited about what Branch brings to the table, after a long track record of success for one of college football premier programs, and a Nick Saban defense that allowed him to line up all over the place.
"He has playmaking ability and he's an instinctive player," Lions assistant GM Ray Agnew said (via the team's official website). "He makes plays all over the field. He can play multiple spots. He's a tough kid, a gritty kid. He's just a playmaker. We like those Alabama guys. They are good football players."
If Branch is able to make the same kind of impact in Detroit as he did in Tuscaloosa, the Lions' defense will have landed a huge bargain on Day 2 of this year's draft.
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