Tyvon Branch turned 23 on December 11th 2009, so he made most of his mark at only 22 years old, and here is a look at some of his highlights and also how he stacks up with the rest of the Strong Safeties in the AFC and the NFL as a whole.
NFL Family, there is no denying that a safety that is 9th in the NFL in tackles deserves some consideration for the Pro Bowl. There can also be a case made that if that player is 23 years old and also leads all DBs in tackles, solo tackles and is the top fumble forcer amoungst strong safeties that he may be the best young safety in the League. Did I also mention that he has 6 tackles behind the line of scrimmage? That is tops amoung all AFC Strong Safeties as well!!! Or how about his 8 Passes Defensed? 2nd Amoung AFC Strong Safeties!
Tyvon Branch, the starting Strong Safety for the Oakland Raiders is doing just that in ONLY his second season. In fact, he is leading Ray Lewis, London Fletcher, Brian Cushing and David Harris in solo tackles (87) while compiling 110 total tackles. That means that 79% of his tackles have been solo jobs. He has also forced two fumbles in his first full season as a starter.
My argument is that, having just turned 23 on December 11th, there is not a better YOUNG Strong Safety in the NFL than Tyvon Branch and you can even make a case that he is the BEST Strong Safety in the AFC. Unfortunately, the Pro Bowl voting is has closed,just as he was making his ascent, and he would need to make it as an alternate. Much like Nnamdi Asomugha before him, he may need to have a jet and a ticket ready for the 23rd hour call from the League.
With the Super Bowl being played AFTER the Pro Bowl this year, I would expect every player form the Super Bowl teams to need replacements, so, stay tuned AFTER the announcement on the 28th, this means that the teams will likely be shaken up.
By my count, there are three safeties, by name and tenure that can be looked at ahead of him and they are all Free Safeties:
Brian Dawkins, Ed Reed and Troy Polamalu. Two of these are hurt and may need to be replaced in Miami.
Then there is a pool of strong safeties that Tyvon leads in total tackles, solo tackles and forced fumbles.
Yeremiah Bell - MIA - 3/3/1978 - Bell has tallied 103 tackles, 82 solo, 2 STF, 1.5 sacks, 8 Passes Defensed, 1 INT and 0 Fumbles forced.
Tyvon Branch - OAK - 12/11/1986 - Tyvon has 110 tackles, 87 solo, 6 STF, 1 Sack, 8 Passes Defensed, 0 INT and 2 Forced Fumbles
George Wilson - BUF - 03/14/81 - Wilson has 94 Tackles, 65 solo, 3 STF, 2 Sacks, 10 Passes Defensed, 4 INT, 1 Forced Fumble
Bernard Pollard - HOU - 12/24/1984 - Pollard has 89 Tackles, 70 Solo, 1 STF, 1/2 Sack, 3 INT and 1 Forced Fumble
Mike Brown - KC - 2/13/1978 84 Tackles, 68 Solo, 1 STF, 2 Sacks, 6 Passes Defensed, 3 INT, 1 FF
From these numbers, a case can be made that only George Wilson and Bell, 8 years his senior, would also be a better choice for the Pro Bowl, BUT, Tyvon has made a case for himself at ONLY 23 years of age.
I am writing this because, this year, I have become a Tyvon Branch fan. He carries himself with pride on and off the field. He is not one of the young players that you hear about being out all night and getting into trouble. Tyvon brings his lunch pail with him to work EVERY DAY and it shows in his performance and his numbers.
It is great for the NFL when one of the "Good Guys" does well at such an early age. So, main stream media, NFL Network, ESPN, Fox, CBS and NBC please join me in welcoming Tyvon Branch. He deserves your attention, if he hasn't already gotten it!