Tyvon Branch has been one of the Oakland Raiders most consistent players over the past three years. Since earning the starting strong safety job to begin his sophomore year in 2009, Branch has notched more than 100 tackles each season and led the team the past two seasons. Branch is a ball hawk in the truest sense of the word, at the end of almost every play, Branch can be found within a yard or two of the ball carrier. But while he has been a solid player, he is better in the run game than the pass game and has not had a lot of impact plays.
Branch is still young and should continue to improve in his fifth season with the Raiders. That, however, is not the only reason he has a good chance of making the Pro Bowl for the first time in 2012. With all of the changes that have occurred in Oakland since Al Davis passed away, the Raiders will be running a massively different defense this season and one of the biggest changes being made will benefit Branch.
As I noted above, one of the reasons that Branch has not made the Pro Bowl yet is because he has not done anything to raise himself above the level of just being a very good player. This season, that could change. When he has been given the opportunity, Branch has shown a penchant for making plays in the back field on blitzes. Under the old regime in Oakland, blitzing rarely, if ever, occurred. In the new regime with Dennis Allen, the Raiders will do their fair share of blitzing, and Branch could be the man blitzing on a lot of those plays. If Branch can continue to tally triple digit tackle numbers while adding 5 sacks, the Pro Bowl would not be out of the question.