Devy Diamond: Zachariah Branch

Devy Diamonds: Zachariah Branch, WR, USC

Welcome to Devy Diamonds: Zachariah Branch. He was a five-star prospect out of Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas, Nevada. Too many he was considered the WR1 of the 2023 graduating class. Early comparisons had him with a similar play style to Tyreek Hill. Before committing to USC he had 16 Division-I offers. In December of 2021, he would commit to USC.

Branch caught 65.9% of his passes during his freshman campaign, or 31 of 47 targets. Those 31 receptions would turn into 320 receiving yards with 2 touchdowns through 12 games.

2024 Outlook: What to Expect

Unfortunately, Branch did not break out his freshman season. Many may have expected him to considering his quarterback was the first overall draft pick in 2024, Caleb Williams. Freshman receiver Duce Robinson outproduced Branch regarding yardage on fewer receptions. This season Branch should enter as the de facto WR1 of the Trojans. However, the concern will not be his lack of talent, as he has plenty, but rather his quarterback. Caleb Williams is gone. Five-star prospect Malachi Nelson transferred to Boise State.

This means Miller Moss will likely be the Trojans quarterback in week one. We saw a glimpse of Miller Moss last season as he threw with a completion percentage of 70.8% for 681 yards. Branch could become Moss’s favorite target. On the other hand, this season could be a rebuild and refocus year for USC as they enter the BIG10. Unfortunately, that could mean the breakout season we want from Zachariah Branch is on hold for another season.


  • Explosive speed. Possesses elite speed that allows him to consistently outrun defenders and create separation on deep routes.
  • Acceleration. His quick moves at the snap of the ball make him a constant deep threat, capable of turning short passes into significant gains and challenging secondaries.
  • YAC ability. Elusive runner that is dangerous when the ball gets in his hands. Last season 78.4% of his yards came after the catch.
  • Route running. Smooth, crisp, and disciplined route runner. He can change direction smoothly while maintaining speed through cuts.
  • Versatility. Branch’s skill set makes him a versatile receiver who can effectively play multiple positions within an offensive scheme. He can line up on the outside, in the slot, or even take on roles in gadget plays and end-around.
  • Catch radius. Branch has reliable hands allowing him to secure passes thrown in tight windows or slightly off-target.
  • Awareness. Branch demonstrates excellent field vision, quickly identifying defensive coverages and finding soft spots in zones. His situational awareness helps him adjust roles on the fly and maximize yardage after the catch.

Areas of Improvement

  • Size. Branch comes in at 5’10 175 pounds which for today’s NFL might be okay, however, it allows him to get overpowered by more physical cornerbacks.
  • Physicality. Although he can win the contested catch his strength is built off speed rather than being physical which could limit his effectiveness in red-zone situations.
  • Blocking. Branch’s smaller frame also impacts his ability as a blocker. He can struggle to effectively block larger defenders in the run game, which can limit his versatility and the overall effectiveness of certain offensive plays where receiver blocking is crucial.
  • Experience. Last season Branch saw the 6 most snaps out of the USC WR room. Even though he played in 12 games the collegiate experience could still bring unanswered questions to some. The bright side is that 4 out of the 5 WRs that saw more snaps than Branch did are no longer with the team.

Draft Stock: Eligible 2026

Consensus Projected Draft Capital: First-Round prospect

Personal Projected Draft Capital: First-Round prospect

Ideal Landing Spot: Las Vegas Raiders

Predicting two years out means tons can change from now and then. So, at this time let us assume the Raiders have not brought in a wide receiver as versatile as Branch can be. Let us also assume that they draft their potential franchise quarterback from the 2025 draft class. Right now the Raider’s top receiving threat is the elite DaVante Adams. Behind him, the wide receiver room is rather slim with Jakobi Meyers filling in the WR2 role. The team does have two elite prospects at tight end Michael Mayer and Brock Bowers. However, the team is missing that down the line, bust open the secondary type of receiver.

Insert Zachariah Branch. His versatility will be key at the next level. Because of his ability to play multiple roles in an offense he would not necessarily need to be considered as the WR-X, even though he can be that receiver. In a room with one of the greatest in the game today, plus a solid WR2 option in Meyers, Branch could find some immediate success. Even if the Raiders were to use new rookie addition Bowers in the slot adding a receiver like Branch adds a new layer of offensive schemes that could be run. Adams is not getting younger. Rumors have even circulated that he could be traded before his career is over. Either way, the Raiders need to find a replacement for Adams sooner rather than later if they want any shot at being effective in the passing game.

Branch will bring speed and reliable hands to their offense. Both traits are reasons to become a quarterback’s favorite target. Branch does have two years between then and now. That means a lot can change with his size, his overall skill set, or even what a team like the Raiders does with their offense. One thing is certain: Branch offers the skill set of an elite wide receiver, and whether you are a fantasy manager or NFL general manager, he should be on your radars.

Fantasy Impact

The 2026 receiving class right now has been somewhat underwhelming regarding some top prospects entering their collegiate careers. There are still some unknowns with the receiving class whether it was a lack of playing or just an overall lack of usage in their offensive systems. From a fantasy perspective in Campus to Canton leagues Branch should be considered a top 15 wide receiver. Even with possible quarterback concerns his ability to stretch the field and beat defenses with speed could create a “break-the-league” type of player. As mentioned earlier, he should be considered the de facto WR1 of the USC offense meaning he should get flustered with targets this season.

From an NFL fantasy perspective, Branch could have the ceiling of a low-end WR1, but will likely be considered a high-end WR2. His size at the next level could raise concerns or lack of involvement to start his career. His landing spot will be key because everybody is fast in the NFL. I say this meaning if he goes to a crowded wide receiver room he will need to showcase more than just his speed to be considered a solid wide receiver for fantasy production. There is a world where Branch is utilized as a rookie receiver in kick return scenarios showing off his elusiveness which in the end earns him a spot to become a dominant wide receiver down the stretch. Think of a DeSean Jackson type of playmaker. It took the right offense to unlock his true potential. The same will be needed for Zachariah Branch.

Thank you for checking out Devy Diamonds: Zachariah Branch. Follow @TheFFUniverse on X to stay tuned for future Devy Diamonds, our rankings, and much more fantasy football insight to help you stay ahead of your leagues, and check out our Rankings Page. Also, check out the full video breakdown on The Fantasy Football Universe YouTube Channel.

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