Chargers Free Agency Shopping List: Tyvon Branch

A few days ago, we looked at the option of bringing in Laron Landry from the Washington Redskins into our secondary. It was interesting to note that Redskins fans were hesitant to even bring him back onto their squad and there are a lot of question marks about his health. That is something that we should not gamble on here in San Diego.

Today we will look at the possibilities of adding a safety from our division rivals, the Oakland Raiders. Tyvon Branch will become a free agent and I was able to get more insider information on him from Chris Shellcroft of Just Blog Baby. Here is what he had to say:

What is the general feel out in OAK? Will they be looking to bring him back?

Tyvon Branch was by far the most consistent defender for the Raiders not just this season but the last three. If Oakland doesn’t bring him back it will cause more waves than JaMarcus Russell off the high dive. Branch is the prototypical strong safety with the added bonus of blazing speed. He’s a Raider through and through so seeing him in anything other than Silver and Black will be sickening.

How is he as a returner?

Branch is a solid returner. Initially as a rookie that was his first job though he didn’t get back to special teams until this year because of injuries. Still, he is very much a threat. Branch is built like a running back, has good vision, great speed and is fearless. All are important components of a returner. However it should be noted that he’s a kick return guy and not the punt return type. He doesn’t make guys miss so much as he runs through or past them. Great straight line speed without much wiggle in his movement.

Strengths/Weaknesses?

Tyvon is a sure tackler that makes plays at the line of scrimmage. He flies to the ball and pursues every play at full speed. He’s also a hitter that loves to mix it up. If you watch him enough it become hard to take your eyes off #33, the guy just jumps off the screen like you’re watching 3D game tape. Whenever he blitzes you’d better pick him up cause if he gets to the QB bad things happen. As Exhibit A I’d refer Charger fans to that loss in Oakland last season that ended the Bolts 13 game win streak over the Raiders. Branch was all over the field including being a big part of the play that sealed the deal.

Though he was drafted as a corner out of UConn, Branch isn’t all that great in coverage. His strength is defending the run. While he can break on the ball with the best of them, his coverage skills aren’t impressive. On occasion he’ll cheat at the line and will get caught out of position. Also, Tvyon tends to rely on his speed a little too much. He’ll gamble knowing he can sprint and recover. Problem is sometimes those gambles can leave the rest of the defense exposed when you play a man-intensive scheme like the Raiders do.

Any extra information on him that we should know?

There is no doubt that if Branch played for a more successful team he’d be talked up more. The guy has that Troy Polamalu type game that is somewhere between Tasmanian Devil and Russian chess champion. To win Lombardis you need guys like Tyvon that sacrifice their bodies and sellout on every snap.

I love the sounds of adding Tyvon Branch into our secondary. We need a major upgrade at safety and Branch could be an option to look into. It sounds like it will be tough for us to try and get him out of Oakland, but we should make an attempt.

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