Photo Credit: Arizona State Athletics
The first Arizona State player and sixth wide receiver is off the board.
Brandon Aiyuk was selected with the 25th overall pick by the San Francisco 49ers. San Francisco acquired the No. 25 pick in a trade with the Minnesota Vikings.
The 6-0, 205 pound senior out of Arizona State picked up right where New England Rookie N’Keal Harry left off, amassing over 1,100 yards and eight touchdowns. Aiyuk is also an excellent return man. On punt returns, he averaged 16.1 yards with a touchdown. On kickoffs he also averaged 32 yards per return.
Aiyuk executes sharp, fast routes. His explosion out of breaks gives his quarterback a clear target to throw to. His long arms and soft hands allow him to pluck the ball out of the air. All this adds up to a man-coverage monster. After the catch, he has exceptional field vision and is one of the best Yards After Catch guys in the draft.
While he is great against man-coverage, he tends to be affected by physical defenders. On down-field bump coverage, he tends to be knocked off his route and has trouble recovering well. He needs to be more physical, especially at the line of scrimmage. I anticipate him struggling against press man coverage early on.
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What the Experts Say
Ascending receiving prospect who has shown continued improvement since coming from the JUCO ranks. Aiyuk has size, speed and is a natural pass-catcher who plays with good energy but he must improve physicality to handle contested catches. He can be slick and instinctive to separate out of stems and turns, but getting in and out of standard route breaks tends to limit his effectiveness. He needs more polish, but his ability to create yards after catch could get him some early reps while he’s still developing. He has the potential to develop into a WR3. -Lance Zierlein, NFL.com
San Francisco, with one pick, drafted a wide receiver as well as a return man – addressing two needs with one player. Aiyuk will immediately affect ballgames in the return game. And while I expect him to make an impact in the receiving game, I don’t think it will be immediate. The Niners got what I consider the most underrated wide receiver in this year’s draft. Get ready San Francisco, you picked up a good one!