2023 NFL Draft

Pro Football Focus Outlines Steelers Best Day Two Fit

Day One of the NFL Draft captures all the headlines. But in any draft, and especially one like 2023 that’s deeper than it is stronger at the top, there’s plenty of value to be had on Day Two. For Pittsburgh, Friday night will be far busier than Thursday, the team holding three picks between 32 and 80, kicking things off with the top pick of Round Two.

With that in mind, Pro Football Focus went through the best Day Two picks for all 32 teams. For Pittsburgh, they landed on Alabama S/CB Brian Branch, author Mike Renner penning:

“Branch played the role in Alabama’s defense once filled at a high level by Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick. And he played it at nearly an identical level, too, with an 89.5 overall grade last fall. Having two safeties who are that versatile would open up a lot of creative opportunities for Mike Tomlin’s defense.”

A fair and strong assessment across the board. Similar to Fitzpatrick, Branch didn’t test off the charts at the Combine, running a 4.58 40. But he’s smart, tough, and physical, with the versatility to align all over a defense. Pittsburgh likes being multiple and adding Branch would ease the loss of Cam Sutton, who wore multiple hats for the Steelers’ defense. Based on our charting, he lined up at six different positions throughout the 2022 season.

However, it’s worth wondering if Branch will fall that far. The testing may ding him a bit but he’s considered the best safety in this year’s draft that overall, is a weak class. He’s not nearly as high-end as past prospects, not even as highly routed as Kyle Hamilton a year ago, but you can’t discount Branch being a late first-round pick or even Pittsburgh’s choice at #17. He checks all the boxes. According to Mock Draft Database, which aggregates mock drafts, Branch is selected on average 23rd overall. So choosing a potential Day One pick for Day Two is a little curious. Compare that with the bulk of the rest of PFF’s list that’s littered with true Day Two names.

You can check out our profile on Branch below, where we gave him a first-round grade.

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