4 worst case scenarios for Steelers in 2023 NFL Draft

Alabama defensive back Brian Branch
Alabama defensive back Brian Branch / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
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2. The Steelers draft Brian Branch

There aren’t a lot of obvious names that stick out as potential bad first-round picks for this team. While rumors have surfaced of the team potentially reaching for some players, their focus has seemed to be on two offensive tackles and two cornerbacks. I don’t expect some sort of a shocking surprise in the first round at their rate.

Even a surprise like Brian Bresee, while not worth the 17th overall spot, wouldn’t be the end of the world to me. This team needs some long-term help at defensive end, and while a projection, Bresee has a lot of upsides.

A name I am firmly against using pick 17 on is Brian Branch. I get it, he is a relatively safe player with an instant role in the slot, but his ceiling isn’t very high and his best fit doesn’t even leave him as a starter on every defensive snap. Having a capable slot defender is important, but it shouldn’t come at the cost of pick 17.

If Branch projected well elsewhere, this would be a different story. He lacks the athleticism and coverage skills to be a full-time cornerback and he isn’t a great size to play in the box. He was never comfortable as a deep free safety on top of this. While he could fill in at any of those spots, his best fit is as a slot defender.

If the team were to trade back or land him at pick 32, I’m fine with Branch being the guy. That said, using pick 17 on a player so limited seems like a mistake. I’m looking elsewhere in the first round, and he sticks out as a potential name that would be a letdown for this team.