NFL Draft

2020 NFL Draft Player Profiles: Arizona State WR Brandon Aiyuk

From now until the 2020 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to showcase as many prospects as possible and examine both their strengths and weaknesses. Most of these profiles will feature individuals that the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have an interest in, while a few others will be top-ranked players. If there is a player you would like us to analyze, let us know in the comments below.

#2 Brandon Aiyuk/WR Arizona State – 5’11/5 205

The Good

– Plus length (33 1/2 inches) and hand size (9 3/4) for position and especially for frame
– Quick, fluid player who maintains speed through cuts and at/post catch
– Quick to the tuck who does damage after the catch, makes plays in open grass as a receiver and returner
– Knows how to beat tight man coverage, impressive releases and overall route running
– Uses head fakes and nuanced route running to create space at break point
– Capable of making high degree of difficulty plays, best moments are impressive
– Gadget player who offense leaned on, go-to in critical moments
– Excellent kick and punt return ability/value
– Serviceable, willing stalk blocker
– Strong senior year with great production

The Bad

– Average frame, thicker lower half but not physically imposing
– Good vertical speed but wins more with quickness and route running
– Higher variance player than you’d like, battle of peaks and valleys in his game
– Inconsistent hands and drops too many passes
– Will struggle with most physical corners who press, can get stalled for too long at the LOS
– Doesn’t win enough in contested/jump ball situations
– Recent injury/medical concerns that’ll need to be evaluated
– Limited starting/D1 experience, one season of serious production

Bio

– One year starter, transferred from JUCO for junior season in 2018
– Career: 98 receptions, 1666 yards 11 TDs
– Career KR average of 27.1 yards, PR average of 11.7 yards with 1 TD
– 2019: 65 receptions, 1192 yards 8 TDs, 31.9 KR average (14 returns)
– 2500 yards, 24 total touchdowns in two years at Sierra College JUCO
– 4.50 40, 40 inch vert at Combine
– Underwent core muscle surgery in early April, missed Senior Bowl with injury

Tape Breakdown

Brandon Aiyuk is a bit of a polarizing player. On tape, you get some impressive highs. You also get some frustrating lows. But let’s start with the good.

Aiyuk is an impressive, advanced route runner for a guy who hasn’t played a lot of college football at the D1 level. He deals with press better than most receivers who, let’s be honest, rarely even see it. But he played the “X” spot most of the time and in 3×1 looks, often had the cornerback rolled up on him. He wins with quickness and burst off the line, like this slant for a TD against USC. Bottom of the screen for the score.

 

He can string together multiple moves in his route. Really nice double-move against Michigan State. Aiyuk is at the bottom of the screen. Bottom of the screen. the “X” wide receiver.

 

And this might be my favorite play of his. His ability to keep his speed through his cuts and after the catch is impressive. Takes his Bang 8 to the house. Again, at the bottom.

 

But there are some negatives too. His hands aren’t great and he drops too many passes. Couple examples.

 

 

That’s his biggest issue on tape. He’ll make a great play and follow it up with a drop or lose out in a contested situation. To the present day, he battled injury through his senior season and pre-draft process, opting to undergo surgery right before the draft that will make teams scramble to figure out his rehab/recovery. There’s pros to getting the surgery taken care of sooner than later, especially with the uncertainty of football in the fall, but it’s another layer teams have to work through on top of him playing FBS football for just two years and one as a starter.

Overall, he’s a quick, fluid player with very good athleticism who can win at most levels, especially the short/intermediate game while making an impact in the return game too. It’s a deep WR class and he could slip a little but he’s likely to go early on Day Two if he doesn’t hear his name called in the Top 32. Hard to find a perfect comp but a little bit of a Stefon Diggs’ vibe when it comes to their route running.

Projection: Late Day 1-Early Day 2

Games Watched: at Michigan State, vs Colorado, vs USC, vs Arizona

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