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Friday, July 29, 2011
Assessing Alan Branch's addition in Seattle

By Mike Sando

The Arizona Cardinals drafted defensive lineman Alan Branch in 2007 when they could have had quarterback Kevin Kolb three picks later.

Coincidentally, Branch's career with the Cardinals ended Thursday, the same day Arizona acquired Kolb from Philadelphia.

Branch, chosen 33rd overall in his draft class, will stay in the NFC West after reaching agreement on a contract with the Seattle Seahawks, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported.

Branch's addition doesn't necessarily affect the Seahawks' continuing pursuit of defensive tackle Brandon Mebane. Branch projects as a five-technique defensive end, while Mebane plays defensive tackle.

Branch failed to meet expectations in Arizona, but he showed improvement when the Cardinals moved him from nose tackle to defensive end in their 3-4 scheme. Seattle runs a 4-3 defense with some 3-4 tendencies. Branch's addition will likely affect Kentwan Balmer more than it affects Mebane. Balmer backed up Red Bryant last season.

Bryant is returning from season-ending knee surgery. He emerged as a pleasant surprise when switching from tackle to the five-technique spot last season. Bryant and Branch combine to give Seattle two huge men at a position that coach Pete Carroll values. The NFL lists Branch at 6-foot-6 and 338 pounds, with Bryant at 6-4 and 323.