NY Jets meet with top safety prospect at the NFL Combine

NY Jets, Brian Branch
NY Jets, Brian Branch / Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports

The NY Jets are keeping a close eye on the top safety prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft, and that certainly includes Alabama's Brian Branch. Branch is widely seen as the top safety prospect in this year's class and could be a target for the Jets in the first round.

The 21-year-old defensive back prospect spoke to reporters at the NFL Combine and said that he's set to have an official meeting with the Jets on Thursday night.

Branch indicated that he would love to play alongside Jets defensive standouts Sauce Gardner and Quinnen Williams, another former Alabama stalwart, while emphasizing that he believes his versatility is his greatest asset, per Antwan Staley of the New York Daily News.

The Jets will undoubtedly be looking to address the safety position this offseason, and if they fail to do so in free agency, targeting Branch early in the draft might be their next-best option.

Does Brian Branch make sense for the NY Jets?

A former five-star recruit, Branch has been an integral part of Alabama's defense over the last three seasons. He earned first-team All-American honors in 2022 following a standout junior season that saw him emerge as one of the best safeties in the nation.

Branch spoke highly of his versatility at the Combine, and that's certainly a part of his game that teams will love. Alabama lined branch up everywhere from box safety to sub-linebacker to slot cornerback to even as a deep safety.

That said, Branch's best role is probably as more of a safety/linebacker/slot defender hybrid. He thrives around the line of scrimmage where he can put his play recognition and open-field tackling skills to use.

Branch is a phenomenal prospect, but I would have some questions about his fit with the Jets. The Jets are looking for a true free safety to replace Lamarcus Joyner this offseason, someone in the mold of Jessie Bates or even Jimmie Ward, to a lesser extent.

Branch makes a lot more sense as a target for the Jets if they decide to move on from Jordan Whitehead as well. Whitehead and Branch don't exactly complement each other's skill sets, but pairing Branch with someone like Bates would give the Jets a fantastic safety duo.

Next. NY Jets land new star OL in 7-round 2023 NFL Mock Draft. dark

The Jets are doing their due diligence on the top safety prospects in this year's class, having already met with Boise State's JL Skinner as well. Branch is someone to keep an eye on as we get closer to the NFL Draft.