The Detroit Lions' rookie class is doing quite well so far this season, and safety Brian Branch might be the most impressive.
Branch has been all over the field for Detroit's secondary so far. Through Week 4, he has piled up 25 tackles, four passes defensed and one interception (a pick-six). That work has him garnering some early Defensive Rookie of the Year hype.
In particular, Mike Renner of The Messenger said he would cast his Defensive Rookie of the Year vote for Branch right now.
There have certainly been other rookie defenders impressing so far this season. Jalen Carter has posted eight tackles and 1.5 sacks. Will Anderson Jr. has compiled 15 tackles and one sack. Devon Witherspoon has 23 tackles, one interception (a pick-six). All these players have been impressive, and will be worth monitoring compared to Branch from here on out this season.
Dan Campbell believes Brian Branch avoided a serious injury in Week 4
At this point, the only thing that could derail Branch's early season momentum is an untimely injury costing him time. In Week 4, that scenario nearly played out.
Branch was carted off the field and looked to have sustained a bad leg injury against the Green Bay Packers in Week 4. But he had his ankle taped and quickly returned. After the game, Dan Campbell told reporters Branch's injury wasn't too serious.
As the Lions have started practice this week, Branch has remained sidelined with the ankle injury. He missed practice on Wednesday, and his status for Week 5 against the Carolina Panthers could be up in the air if he isn't able to return in some capacity by the end of the week.
Branch is off to a hot start, and is looking like a player who will be in the conversation to be the top defensive rookie all season long.