After Darren McFadden you could easily argue that the most valuable man on Oakland’s roster is Tyvon Branch. He’s not a game changer like McFadden and odds are Rihanna isn’t going to be buying drinks for Branch on the beach in Hawaii. But that has nothing to do with how important Tyvon is to the franchise.
After all, it was Branch that earned the first ever franchise tag of the Reggie McKenzie era.
Some things just can’t be measured by stats. Qualities like toughness, dedication, commitment and professionalism. Branch is all of those and if you need stats he’s got those too.
Few defensive backs have racked up as many tackles over the last three years as Branch has. Three straight seasons with 100+ tackles plus a combined six sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 3 fumble recoveries and countless crushing hits all comprise the Tyvon highlight reel. Oh…and he hasn’t missed a game since an injury plagued rookie season starting every time he’s taken the field since 2009.
Still, it is hard to believe he’s waiting on a long-term deal. Word was the Raiders and Branch were talking contract but that has yet to happen. For now Oakland’s most dominant defender is working on a one-year payday. Not the kind of security you’d expect of a man that would have got top dollar on the open market. I’m sure there is still a deal in the works but it would be a bad move to let Branch make it into camp with just the franchise tag to his name.
In order for Oakland to resurrect its defense from the ashes they’ll need a building block like Branch. Richard Seymour is on his way out. Rolando McClain is still unproven. Meanwhile the rest of the defense is officially on watch as McKenzie made it clear by his first draft just where the most work must be done.
Al Davis certainly unearthed a gem when he took Branch 100th overall back in ’08. Now that he’s become a polished stone it’s time for the Raiders to give Branch his due as the rock of the defense he is. He might not be a household name but you’d better believe you can’t construct a home without a solid foundation. Tyvon is that foundation and upon which Dennis Allen will erect his fortress.