Alabama safety Brian Branch revealed on the “Up & Adams Show” with Kay Adams that it would be an absolute dream to be paired with Minkah Fitzpatrick as a safety tandem in Pittsburgh. Like Branch, Fitzpatrick is an Alabama product. Branch has never met the three-time first-team All-Pro, but he’s a player that he’s been looking up to since he was in high school.
“The GOAT … I’ve been looking up to him since I was in high school and he was back in college,” Branch said of Fitzpatrick. “Just the way he (has) a nose for the football. He’s everywhere. He’s one of those do-it-all safeties. He can cover, fit the run, blitz, play in the deep part of the field. I think that’s what you look in for a safety.”
Branch has been linked to the Steelers at 17th overall in several mock drafts. Pro Football Talk’s one-and-only mock draft even has the Alabama safety landing with Pittsburgh. It’s something that doesn’t go unnoticed by Branch.
“It feels good. If that’s where I land,” Branch said. “Just to be able to share the field with Minkah. I can learn a lot stuff from him easily. Like I said, he’s the GOAT. I feel like he will make me the best version of me. Just being able to share that field with him, that would be fly.”
Damontae Kazee and Keanu Neal are solid pairings for Fitzpatrick, but Branch would just take it to another level. Branch is a jack-of-all-trades defensive back. At Alabama, Branch transitioned to playing multiple positions across the defense, aligning at deep safety, strong safety, nickel, linebacker, and was even the end man on the line of scrimmage in certain blitz packages. In 2022, Branch recorded 90 total tackles (58 solos), three sacks, two interceptions and a whopping 14 tackles for loss.
With Branch’s impeccable versatility and Fitzpatrick’s ball hawk traits at free safety, the Steelers would have the pieces for an elite safety tandem. If the top offensive tackles and cornerbacks are off the board when the Steelers pick at 17th overall on Thursday night, it would not be surprising if the Steelers went with Branch if they view him as the best player available. Mike Tomlin said during the Steelers’ pre-draft press conference that they have “no glaring needs,” so it seems like things could be wide open. Branch is a player to keep your eye on for sure. A safety tandem of Fitzpatrick and Branch might be too good to pass up on.