NAME: Brandon Aiyuk
POSITION: Wide Receiver/Kick Returner/Punt Returner
SCHOOL: Arizona State University
Brandon Aiyuk is a name that has been up and down on draft boards for months. At one point, there were reports that multiple teams had a first round grade on him. Lately, he’s frequently been connected to the middle of the second round. With the unpredictability of this year’s draft, he could go anywhere between round two or potentially three. The depth of this year’s receiving class could cause teams to wait on taking a receiver early, especially if he isn’t one of the few elite players such as Jerry Jeudy or CeeDee Lamb. Aiyuk is a player that the Colts could look at with their second pick in the second round (44th overall).
Aiyuk is not necessarily a speed demon, but he can turn on the burners thanks to his exceptionally quick acceleration. He has a great burst that allows him to pull away from tacklers as well as a second gear once he opens up in full stride. This is also why he is so successful as a return man. Aiyuk can instantly step into full throttle and evade tacklers. With the ball in his hands and an open field in front of him, he’s a threat to create chunk plays and change a game.
Aiyuk’s explosiveness plays a large role here. He creates plays in space with his fluid hips and feet. He can easily use his speed and looseness to bend around defenders on screens and in open space. His fantastic vision and knowledge of angles allows him to beat defenders across the field. Aiyuk is also more proficient at shedding arm tackles than people give him credit for.
Brandon Aiyuk from Arizona State is not only one this draft class’ best WR’s but he also can be valuable immediately as a return man! pic.twitter.com/6qd8AfN346
— Talkin’ Giants (@TalkinGiants) April 10, 2020
This is where Aiyuk’s evaluation gets a little tricky. He struggles against tight man and press coverage. However, he will tear up zone coverage when he’s given a few yards of cushion. His loose hips and explosiveness allow him to find great separation that will translate well to an NFL level. NFL coaches and a team that gives him a chance to develop will hopefully improve his consistency.
#ArizonaState's Brandon Aiyuk releases off the line, attacking the cornerback's outside shoulder. Once committed to that side, he executes a small head nod and changes direction inside. Planning and execution at its best. #NFLDraft #Steelers #Raiders #Chargers #Lions #Rams #Jets pic.twitter.com/XtOYQW6SGT
— Black and Gold Nation 🎃👻 (@B_GNation1) April 10, 2020
With his speed, Aiyuk often beats defenders and gets separation while running vertical routes. Vertical separation is meaningless, though, if a receiver can’t capitalize and track the ball. Aiyuk does a fantastic job finding the ball and using his strong hands to pull it in. He does have a few drops on record, but not enough problems to raise any red flags. Generally, he’s able to use his strong hands to pull most balls in through contact.
Aiyuk would be a great player for the Colts to grab somewhere in the second round. He has a great blend of athleticism and elusiveness. His playmaking ability is an asset the Colts desperately need. He gets good enough separation to have success in the NFL, and getting to develop under T.Y. Hilton would be especially beneficial for him. Overall, Aiyuk is a playmaker whose style should transition well to the NFL. He has a few things to clean up with his game but nothing major. Aiyuk is one of the best playmakers in the entire draft class, and he can win in a variety of ways.