4 Alabama players the Jacksonville Jaguars could target in the 2023 NFL Draft
By Beau Adams
3. Alabama player the Jacksonville Jaguars could draft: Brian Branch
First-team All-American Brian Branch started every game at cornerback in 2022. He racked up 90 tackles, 14 for a loss, and three sacks. Branch was Alabama's defensive player of the week seven times last season. He shows up every game to give 110 percent, a workhorse of a defensive back.
Branch hails from Sandy Creek High School, where he was named Georgia 5A Ironman of the Year - an award given to the league's top two-way player. Rated a four-star prospect by 247 Sports, he was a prized recruit for the Crimson Tide.
Scouting reports of Branch often paint a favorable picture. One report says he quietly developed into the best cover corner in the nation in 2022, equally adept at man and zone. With the proper development at the next level, he could be considered a near-lockdown defensive back in the NFL
Overall, Branch compares favorably to Minkah Fitzpatrick of the Pittsburgh Steelers, as they both had similar combine stats, size, speed, and production scores. Fitzpatrick was drafted 11th overall in 2018. Watch Branch terrorize a quarterback with this sack.
While Branch was used as a slot cornerback at Alabama, he goes into the draft as the top-ranked saftey. However his versatility would allow the coaching staff to move him around in several different defensive packages. Branch’s ability to play multiple positions would add considerable value to the Jaguar’s backfield.
Mock drafts have him drafted from 13th-35th. So it is not a sure-fire certainty he will be available at No. 24. The Jaguars would need to package some players and picks to move up in the first round if they want Branch. It would be hard to think the Steelers would let him pass by at No. 17, but the No.16 pick from the Washington Commanders should be an optimal position to move up to.