FOOTBALL

Alabama football defensive back Brian Branch declares for NFL Draft 2023

Nick Kelly
The Tuscaloosa News

Brian Branch didn't join other Alabama football juniors at Monday's press conference, but he made the same decision as those at the presser. Branch is headed to the NFL Draft 2023.

He announced the decision on Instagram later Monday.

Branch joins quarterback Bryce Young, running back Jahmyr Gibbs and linebacker Will Anderson Jr. in declaring early for the NFL.

"I've developed so much since my freshman year and because of Alabama, I'm confident that I'm prepared to take my game to the next level," Branch wrote on Instagram. "After thoughtful conversations with my family and coaches, I've decided to forgo my senior year and enter the 2023 NFL Draft. This has been a dream of mine since I could remember and I'm ready to embrace this next journey for my life."

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A player must be three years removed from high school to be eligible. These juniors will join a handful of seniors from the Crimson Tide headed to the NFL. Nine Alabama players have accepted invites to the Senior Bowl on Feb. 4.

The ESPN player rankings for the 2023 NFL Draft rank Branch as the No. 16 player overall and the No. 1 safety.

Branch has been the primary starter at the Star defensive back position on Nick Saban's defense the past two seasons. He is fresh off arguably his best game for the Crimson Tide after he finished with 12 tackles, one sack and an interception against Kansas State.

This season, he finished with 90 tackles, three sacks, two interceptions and seven passes defensed.