The Charlotte native was a stud on the defensive side of the ball for South Mecklenburg High School where was a two-time All-SoMeck 8 Conference selection, a Second-Team All-Charlotte Observer squad member, on top of a local publication naming him their Defensive Player of the Year in the area. As a senior, Brannon totaled 56 tackles, six for a loss, one sack, eight interceptions, and 13 pass breakups. As a junior, he originally set the school record for interceptions in a single season with another eight, giving him 16 takeaways in his final two seasons at South Meck.
Brannon did not redshirt in his first year with the Catamounts. He did only play in five games but one of those was his first-career start. He collected just four tackles during that 2016 season.
As a sophomore, Brannon started another game but found himself contributing in 11 total. Although he had just nine tackles, he made one for a loss and picked off two passes with one of those going for a pick-six. As a junior, his playing time was more of the same with two starts in 10 games but Brannon upped his tackles to 22 with two tackles-for-loss, another pair of interceptions, two pass breakups, and single forced and recovered fumble.
Brannon’s senior season was his first as a full-time starter where he began all 12 games, leading to his most-impactful year at WCU. To the tune of 55 tackles, three interceptions, two fumble recoveries, one pick-six, and eight pass breakups, Brannon was selected as a member of the All-Southern Conference Second Team.
After being one of 19 undrafted players signed by the Chargers in 2020, Brannon saw time with the active in one game, helping to fill in for a slew of injured defensive backs. He recorded no statistics, however.
College: Western Carolina
Years with team: 1
“John Brannon signed a 2 year, $1,485,000 contract with the Los Angeles Chargers, including an average annual salary of $742,500. In 2021, Brannon will earn a base salary of $660,000, while carrying a cap hit of $660,000.” - Spotrac.com
In college, Brannon played very physical at the line of scrimmage. He loved getting his hands on receivers from the jump to redirect their route stem. He was also very competitive at the catch point and that’s a quality that can be tough to teach at times. Some players think a single swipe is good enough while others know they can keep punching at the ball until the play is over. I think Brannon is on the latter side of that spectrum.
Brannon being able to see playing time over fellow 2020 UDFA corner Donte Vaughn is also a good sign that me may be a bit further along in his needed progression than the other.
His footwork needs some cleaning up when working from a press position and he’s immediately uncomfortable playing catch-up. He also struggles with getting off blocks and bringing support in the run game. Whether it was mid-major competition or a Power 5 school, Brannon’s film is sprinkled with mental lapses. He’ll need to reel those types of things in to have a shot at sticking around in the NFL.
Odds of making the roster/What to expect in 2021?
After the team drafted Asante Samuel Jr. in April, on top of signing veteran Ryan Smith, the cornerback room is no less full than it was to end the season. Brannon will have to scratch and claw his way to a spot on the active roster, but I believe the chances heavily point towards another year on the practice squad in 2021.