4 reasons Steelers fans should not want Brian Branch at pick 17 in the NFL Draft

Steelers, Brian Branch
Steelers, Brian Branch / Alika Jenner/GettyImages
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Since before Terrell Edmundsintrigued announced that he would not be returning to Pittsburgh in 2023, many Steelers fans have been intrigued by the idea of drafting Alabama safety, Brian Branch. Now that Edmunds is officially gone, the hype train for Branch has never been bigger.

Mike Tomlin, Omar Khan, and at least four other members of Pittsburgh's brass were on hand for Alabama's Pro Day recently, and Branch is the one target from this school who has been linked to the Steelers in the first round. However, I am not as keen on this idea as many others. Here are four reasons why the Steelers fans should not want Brian Branch with the 17th overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.

4. Brian Branch doesn't check all of the boxes

When it comes to the game tape, you won't find a more polished and well-rounded safety in the 2023 draft class. However, the NFL is all about projecting forward; not looking at the past. Though Branch is a smooth mover, you don't see an elite athlete on film when you watch the tape.

This turned out to be the case exactly. At the NFL Combine, Branch ran a 4.58 and a 4.61 during his two trials in the 40-yard dash (official 4.58, per NFL.com). While I can live with a lack of speed, the lack of size and length is also concerning. At 190 pounds, the Alabama prospect has just 3rd percentile weight and his short arms give him just 19th percentile length when compared to NFL safeties.

Yes, Branch does have position versatility, but if the plan is to play him in the slot, there are plenty of other players the Steelers could find in the draft for that role. I still think that Branch is a good prospect, but not checking some must-have boxes in the first round when it comes to size and athleticism is the first warning sign.