A Look At Alan Branch As A Potential Free Agent Signing By The Detroit Lions In The 2018 Off-Season.
The Detroit Lions entered the NFL Draft a week ago with one of their biggest holes being interior defensive line. Outside of 4th round selection Da’Shawn Hand, the Lions did not address the defensive line need in the draft. Hand will likely play the 3′ or 5′ in new Lions head coach Matt Patricia‘s scheme. This defensive line group got even thinner when Akeem Spence was traded earlier this week to the Miami Dolphins. While this was likely due to a scheme change, it does create a bigger need on the interior defensive line.
Earlier this off-season, the Lions did sign Sylvester Williams to play the more traditional nose tackle role. However, he goes down with an injury, there is not other lineman with nose tackle experience on the roster. Lions general manager Bob Quinn emphasized the need to get stronger and tougher in the trenches this off-season. He could do just that by reuniting Patricia with former New England Patriot Alan Branch.
What Does Alan Branch Have To Offer Detroit?
Size, strength, and toughness are arguably Branch’s best qualities. At 6’6, 330 lbs, he is one of the biggest interior defenders in the league. His production over the past three years has been consistent, as well as his availability. In the past three seasons, he has only missed four games. In 2017, he missed one game earlier on in the season due to a minor injury. However, he did have a meniscus injury that kept him out for for the final three games of the year. Though it is not expected that he will miss any time in 2018.
But, I would not expect Branch to be a direct factor in the pass rushing game. His lateral quickness and acceleration are both lacking. He does not possess a large repertoire of pass rushing moves. That is not to say he won’t impact it all though. His immense size is enough to collapse the pocket if not double-teamed. Commanding double teams will free up the rest of the defense to take advantage of one-on-one matchups more regularly.
The Lions would definitely be stronger up the middle were they to add Branch for the 2018 season. With the emphasis on stopping the run, he would be a great addition as he has made a living as a quality run defender and gap filler. Ultimately, he adds depth to the nose tackle position and would be insurance in the event Williams suffers a major injury this year.