Detroit Lions to have Alabama safety Brian Branch in for a pre-draft visit
As they continue to survey draft prospects, the Detroit Lions have scheduled a pre-draft visit with Alabama safety Brian Branch.
After adding much-needed pieces to their secondary in free agency, the Detroit Lions are still looking long-term as they do their pre-draft due diligence. According to Aaron Wilson of KPRC in Houston, the Lions are one of six teams scheduled to host Alabama safety Brian Branch on a top-30 pre-draft visit.
Branch is also set to meet with the Houston Texans, Washington Commanders, Las Vegas Raiders, Minnesota Vikings and Atlanta Falcons. He will also have a private workout with the Buffalo Bills.
Branch is widely regarded as the top safety in this year’s draft class. But to classify him as only a safety is to discount him. He played in the box, in the slot and as a deep safety for Nick Saban. Last season he had 90 total tackles, 13 tackles for loss, three sacks, seven pass breakups and two interceptions.
The Lions value versatility, as recently evidenced by the signings of C.J. Gardner-Johnson and Cameron Sutton. Via Ben Raven of MLive, defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn spoke about what he looks for in a safety at the NFL Combine.
"I like a safety that has an opportunity to play nickel because those guys are bigger body guys, but now those guys are able to cover, cause this is a space game,” Glenn said. “So if you can get a bigger body guy to play nickel and (be) a run fit, man, you really got something now."
2023 NFL Draft: Could the Detroit Lions take Brian Branch in the first round?
At a glance the Lions look fairly well set for a little while at safety with Kerby Joseph and Tracy Walker, even as Walker is currently working his way back from an Achilles’ tear. But Branch (6-foot, 190 pounds) could become a hybrid/slot corner type, and a future answer there for the Lions with Gardner-Johnson and Will Harris only on one-year deals.
Lance Zierlein of NFL.com has Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatick as his comp for Branch.
Branch is likely to be a first-round pick. For the Lions, he could be in play at No. 18 overall.