Sun Devils WR Brandon Aiyuk is 1st-round pick in ESPN mock draft
ASU football wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk had a huge 2019 season.
Once relatively overshadowed by now-Patriots wideout N’Keal Harry, Aiyuk exploded onto the scene last season and had 1,192 receiving yards, good for second in the Pac-12 and 15th in the country. He had five games of triple-digit receiving yards including a season-high 196 yards on seven catches for three touchdowns.
He’s a player who catches one’s eyes both on-paper and on-film, which makes his latest praise more understandable: ESPN’s Todd McShay had him going 20th overall in the upcoming draft to the Jacksonville Jaguars (picking with the Rams’ selection).
DJ Chark Jr. had a huge season in 2019, and Dede Westbrook is more than capable, but the Jags could use a wideout like Aiyuk. He tracks the ball vertically very well, has the wheels to get open, displays the hands to pluck on the run and shows lots of ability to create once the ball is in his hands. Herbert’s arm strength and Aiyuk’s vertical talent would be fun to watch.
His head coach Herm Edwards joined Doug & Wolf on Arizona Sports, praising Aiyuk and his unique abilities.
“They like him,” Edwards said Tuesday. “They like his ability to run with the ball. Very explosive guy. The arrows on this guy are pointing up. He was a [junior college] guy just coming in here, so he’s just learning how to improve himself and get better.
“He’s a dynamic player with the ball in his hands, he’s a punt returner, kickoff returner, you can play him inside in the slot, the 50-50 balls, he has good vertical skills, he can jump up and catch the ball. He’s going to be a good player. He’s about almost 200 pounds now, people don’t realize that. He’s a great runner with the ball in his hands.”
Aiyuk was often a problem for defenders after the catch and ranked second in the FBS in yards after the catch with 710.
“He has football speed. There are a lot of guys that can run fast but they don’t play fast,” Edwards said “He’s not that guy. He plays fast with his pads on. He can run.”
After the 2019 season, Aiyuk was named to the AP All-America third team as an all-purpose player. The Football Writer’s Association of America named him to their second team.
NFL.com’s draft profile on Aiyuk, written by Lance Zierlein, praises his speed and motor but says the wideout lacks physicality and needs more polish. “He has the potential to develop into a WR3,” Zierlein wrote.
McShay had Aiyuk as the fourth receiver off the board with Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy, Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb and Alabama’s Henry Ruggs III going 11th, 12th and 13th, respectively.