Brian Branch is one of the best defensive prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft. He also plays a position of need for the Green Bay Packers.
But we may need to rule out the Packers drafting him in the first round.
And, yes, this comes just a couple of days after I had Branch going to Green Bay in a four-round mock draft.
So, what’s changed?
The NFL Scouting Combine.
While the combine isn’t the be-all, end-all for draft prospects, it plays a role.
The Packers tend to draft great athletes in the first round. Under general manager Brian Gutekunst, each first-round pick has had an excellent Relative Athletic Score (RAS).
According to Kent Lee Platte of RAS.football, all seven first-round picks made by Gutekunst had an RAS of at least 8.37 out of 10.
The Packers care about athleticism, especially in the first round.
And that’s why Branch might not be an option for the Packers on Day 1 of the draft.
According to Kent Lee Platte, Branch’s current Relative Athletic Score is 5.90.
Now, it’s important to note that this isn’t the final score. There are some unofficial numbers and it could change.
However, it does give us an early indication.
None of this is to say Branch won’t be a good player in the NFL. He has the potential to become an excellent starter, and he may be a first-round choice. Turn on the tape, and you’ll see why Branch is one of the best defensive prospects in the class.
However, the Packers have drafted elite athletes in the first round every single time under Gutekunst. If Branch’s final RAS is indeed around 5.9, it could matter.
Perhaps the Packers make an exception. Branch certainly has the talent to help Joe Barry’s defense improve significantly.
But if Branch’s RAS isn’t above eight, it may mean we can forget about him going to Green Bay in the first round.