The 2023 NFL Draft could find the Buffalo Bills dipping into the safety waters to find an eventual successor to Micah Hyde and/or Jordan Poyer. Alabama safety Brian Branch might be one of the best in this year’s draft, and the Bills are bringing him in for a private workout.
NFL reporter Aaron Wilson tweeted that Branch has several visits scheduled with NFL teams and singled out Buffalo among them as hosting him for a workout.
Alabama All-Americna safety Brian Branch @AlabamaFTBL has visits with #Texans #Commanders #Raiders #VIkings #Lions #Falcons and private workout with #Bills, per league sources @KPRC2https://t.co/ztnRHMg6fK— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) April 3, 2023
Despite running it back in 2023 with Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde, the Bills have an elephant outside the safety room: Father time could come knocking soon. Despite that messy metaphor, it’s clear that Buffalo is going to need youth at the position sooner than later, especially when you consider that safety Damar Hamlin’s status is up in the air and Taylor Rapp signed a one-year contract. Both players likely back up Poyer and Hyde, in an ideal situation. It’s also possible that Rapp signs an extension to remain in Orchard Park, NY and Hamlin returns to eventually succeed one half of Buffalo’s incredible safety tandem. Point being — there’s too much uncertainty in the long term.
That’s where Brian Branch enters the picture as the consensus top safety and likely first-round pick in a draft observably weak at the position. Branch is an incredibly gifted and versatile defender. If the Bills stayed put and Branch fell to them, it would be difficult to fault the move to draft him even if it’s seen as a luxury pick by most talking heads.
There’s almost nothing to dislike about Branch as a prospect, but he could stand to bulk up a bit on his 6’, 190-pound frame. Like we hear so often with safeties these days, he lacks elite speed. Branch posted a 4.58-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine. None of that should deter teams from Branch’s potential.
Does Brian Branch fit the Bills? Branch is versatile defender who could play multiple positions along the back end of a defense. He could start almost immediately if the team wanted or needed him to play. It’s debatable whether Branch will even last until pick 27. It’s perhaps controversial to think they’d move up to select him, even if Branch becomes an elite defender. While it may feel too soon to aggressively pursue a player like Brian Branch due to their needs elsewhere, it’s clear the Buffalo Bills are interested in him.