Back in 2011, Tyvon Branch was well on his way to becoming one of the best and most versatile strong safeties in the league. Branch could continue on that path in 2013, but last year represented somewhat of a step reverse for the Oakland Raiders defensive back.
Branch finished 14th among safeties in Pro Football Focus grading in 2011 before falling to 32nd in 2012. Improved play from the 26-year-old would be ideal, though either way his type of versatility between covering the slot or helping in the box is critical in today’s game.
The evolution of pass offenses from Peyton Manning‘s Denver Broncos to the receiver-loaded San Diego Chargers with Philip Rivers will make Branch key in 2013. They require teams that have some chess pieces in their secondary and the types of players that can both play the run, cover receivers and have the size to combat tight ends as well.
Branch is basically a younger version of what recent free-agent addition Charles Woodson has become. Obviously Branch has much to prove in the way of a Hall of Fame career, but both help Oakland use defensive back-heavy packages that don’t expose the Raiders too much against the run. I’m excited to see what Dennis Allen cooks up.
“I think so far we have gelled together really good just in the couple of days that we have practiced together,” Woodson said, via CSN Bay Area. “We’re all feeling each other out. That type of thing is only going to help us grow as a unit. … We have some players back there. We have guys that have won games in this league, have been good players in this league.”