Brandon Aiyuk, WR, Arizona State
(percentile rank among all WRs at the Combine since 1999, courtesy of mockdraftable.com):
40-yard dash: 4.50 seconds (55th)
Vertical: 40” (92nd)
Broad: 128” (88th)
20-yard shuttle: n/a
Aiyuk opened his collegiate career at Sierra College (JUCO). He posted a 29-573-5 line as a freshman before popping off for 60-960-14 the following year. Aiyuk added 2 kick-return TDs and 1 punt-return score. He was named a Junior College All-American for that sophomore season.
Aiyuk received offers from Colorado State, Kansas, Hawaii, Nevada, Buffalo and Idaho heading into 2018 — but Arizona State was the only school that recruited him to play WR, rather than moving to the defensive side of the ball. So it was off to Tempe.
Aiyuk stepped right into a significant role as a junior, ranking 2nd on the team in receiving yards and TDs behind only N’Keal Harry. He finished 4th in receptions. Aiyuk’s 2018 market shares: 13.4% of the catches, 15.7% of the receiving yards and 15% of the receiving scores.
Harry’s move to the NFL led to a breakout 2019 campaign for Aiyuk. His 1,192 receiving yards were good for 15th in the nation. His 18.3 yards per catch ranked 13th among players with 40+ grabs. Aiyuk easily led the Sun Devils in catches and tied for the team lead in receiving scores.
He elected to skip the Sun Bowl to prep for the NFL Draft. So in his 12 games, Aiyuk accounted for 29.4% of Arizona State’s receptions, 39.2% of the receiving yards and 38.1% of the receiving TDs. Those marks rank 6th, 2nd and 6th out of 23 of this year’s top WR prospects. Aiyuk averaged a strong 3.04 yards per route run — good for 5th among those 23 wideouts.
Aiyuk also contributed on special teams over the past 2 years, averaging 27.1 yards per kick return and 11.7 yards per punt return with 1 TD.
Courtesy of @WhatsOnDraftNFL
Games watched - Michigan State, Washington State, USC, Oregon State, Oregon
Aiyuk is at his best in space — both before and after the catch.
He has the quickness and burst out of breaks to create separation on shorter routes …
... And the acceleration and speed to win downfield.
Aiyuk is just as dangerous with the ball in his hands, using his explosiveness to make plays after the catch and in the return game. His average of 10.9 yards after the catch in 2019 ranked 8th among all WRs.
Where Aiyuk won’t win is in the “big WR” game. He struggles against physical press coverage and tends to lose 50/50 balls. Per Pro Football Focus, Aiyuk caught only 3 of 14 contested targets for his career.
The biggest knock against Aiyuk is that he’s a 1-year college producer, failing to break out until he was a 21-year-old senior. Rotoviz’s Shawn Siegle found way back in 2014 that the earlier a player breaks out in his college career, the more likely he is to be a hit at the next level.
Of course, context is important. Ayuik spent 2016 and 2017 in the JUCO ranks and then played behind eventual 1st-rounder N'Keal Harry in 2018.
Aiyuk certainly deserves credit for a 2019 campaign that was impressive in terms of raw production, market share and efficiency. He also tested extremely well at the Combine, earning an 89th percentile SPARQ score.
Aiyuk seems unlikely to emerge as the focal point of an NFL passing game. But deploy him in a spread passing game that gets him the ball in space and he can definitely be a fantasy factor.