Brian Branch was the top-ranked impact player among all NFL DBs in 2023


23% of targets resulted in a turn over or block.

Average distance past the line per target was 6.8 yards.

Only 4.7 YAC

And a 81.3 opposing passer rating.

Not too bad I will say.


Not to mention the Packers didn’t get him and even sent us the pick for him. Love it when a plan comes together.


What’s especially impressive is that the gap of 1.73 between Branch and #2 on this list is 63% greater than the gap between #2 and #15 of 1.09. Very interested to see his year 2 development. Do they keep him close to the line of scrimmage or move him out to safety? Competition in the secondary room is going to be fierce!

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What you don’t see on the chart above is any other Lions defensive back. However, one played well enough to make the list. You see, Foster set the minimum snaps at 600 for the season, and Lions safety Ifeatu Melifonwu just missed the cut after playing 535 snaps last year. Had he made the snap minimum, he actually would have finished second in impact player percentage, finishing the season with (per PFF): three pass breakups, two interceptions, six sacks, one forced fumble, and 18 defensive stops for an impact play percentage of 5.6%.

Melifonwu was, quite literally, a game-changer too at the end of the season. While the Lions were bleeding yardage through the air, Melifonwu created opportunities for the defense to get off the field through both his instinctive coverage and serious pass rushing chops.


I’m really looking forward to a full year of Iffy.
At the end of the season Iffy was on fire and the staff had to split safety reps to keep the volatile CJGJ from erupting during a playoff run.

Glad he’s gone.

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And didn’t get ROY!

Can he stay health? TBD
Can he repeat his small sample performance in 2023 over 17 games?

Can only hope both happen.

The D is going to make a major leap this year!

I thought Branch was kicking ass all year. But when Baker mentioned him by name as someone they paid attention to and did some scheming I was like…WOW. That was an eye opener for me.

So much of what happens on that field is a bit beyond our scope as fans. Because we do not know all the time if the issue was player skill, or scheme, or a great play by either player. It is like the issue with many INTs. Was it a crap read by the QB or the WR ran the wrong route or did the defender just make an insane read.

I will say this is likely one of ARSB elite skill sets. HE runs great routes and I suspect he runs them in a way that protects the QB and the pass better than most. He and Goff remind me a ton of TB12 and Edelman/Welker.

How many days until the season starts?

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Branch wasn’t even on the PFWA All Rookie Team:

2023 ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: QB C.J. Stroud, Houston Texans
2023 OFFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: QB C.J. Stroud, Houston Texans
2023 DEFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: DE Will Anderson Jr., Houston Texans


QB – C.J. Stroud, Houston Texas
RB – Jahmyr Gibbs, Detroit Lions; Bijan Robinson, Atlanta Falcons
WR – Jordan Addison, Minnesota Vikings; Puka Nacua, Los Angeles Rams
TE – Sam LaPorta, Detroit Lions
C – Joe Tippmann, New York Jets
G – Steve Avila, Los Angeles Rams; O’Cyrus Torrence, Buffalo Bills
T – Dawand Jones, Cleveland Browns; Darnell Wright, Chicago Bears

DL – Will Anderson Jr., Houston Texans; Jalen Carter, Philadelphia Eagles; Tuli Tuipulotu, Los Angeles Chargers; Kobie Turner, Los Angeles Rams
LB – Jack Campbell, Detroit Lions; Ivan Pace Jr., Minnesota Vikings; Byron Young, Los Angeles Rams
CB – Joey Porter Jr., Pittsburgh Steelers; Devon Witherspoon, Seattle Seahawks
S – Jordan Battle, Cincinnati Bengals; Ji’Ayir Brown, San Francisco 49ers

Special Teams
PK – Jake Moody, San Francisco 49ers
P – Bryce Baringer, New England Patriots
KR – Marvin Mims Jr., Denver Broncos
PR – Derius Davis, Los Angeles Chargers
ST – Jerrick Reed II, Seattle Seahawks

How did Jordan Battle and Ji’Ayir Brown beat him out?

Branch’s PFF grade was higher than Brown, but not quite as high as former teammate Battle:

Battle and Brown aren’t on the list:

What is weird is I was expecting that Branch just got beat on overall PFF scoring. But he was actually second. So how was Brown picked over him…me smells bias

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As a defensive coordinator Branch stands out for his football IQ and tackling ability. He is almost always in the right position, understands his role in the defense, reacts quickly, and gets the ball carrier to the ground when he arrives.
Branch is not the biggest, fastest, or longest DB but his instincts are elite overall but especially for a rookie that isn’t supposed to be comfortable or know what he is doing.
I can’t wait to see him in year 2 with more experience and understanding of the defense and the NFL.
I can see why there is a desire to get Branch to Safety so he can make plays all over the field.


For me it’s all about instincts and productivity. He had it in his college tape coming out of college. That is what the draft is supposed to be all about. Half these analysts have no idea wtf they’re talking about. Combine that with this kid’s desire to prove the experts wrong and you have a 10 years solid starter in the league.

I agree about safety to a certain extent. But man he made some serious reads and nice plays being so close to the line. He is so good at masking his intentions. His feel for the game and the plays is crazy good. Like he knows when the QB is looking his way and when he is looking at the other side and moves accordingly.

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I love Branch at Nickel but Safety keeps him on the field 100% of the time.
There are some defenses where there is no Nickel and it takes the best tackler off the field.
Also, as a safety he can play close to the line or deep and gives AG the ability to use Branch as a weapon all over the field.
I really like Iffy too, so I hope both can stay healthy all season and continue to make explosive impact plays.


Very valid point and one I keep forgetting

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In a recent interview Alex Analzone said that a decent amount of the time, Branch did not have a particular assignment that he was locked into. He said they didn’t want to bog his head down with a bunch information when he was so damn football smart and could figure things out on the fly. So they tried to free him up from that and “let him do what he does.”

It reminds me of Troy Polamalu to a degree. The Steelers tried to design ways to leave Troy “free” to roam so he could “do what he does.” But Troy also had the green light to break assignment at any given moment if his “gut” told him to go somewhere else. The players around him were on alert that if Troy broke assignment it was for a reason, and they needed to respond accordingly.


The A Team Van GIF by MOODMAN