Draft Prospect Profile | WR Brandon Aiyuk, Arizona State
Weight: 201 pounds
School: Arizona State
The Giants have had a void of high-end talent at the wide receiver position since the departure of Odell Beckham Jr last off-season.
Sterling Shepard and Golden Tate are admirable, veteran, receivers that fill significant roles that also embody their toughness--Shepard is an excellent route runner with good hands and is quick in and out of breaks. At the same time, Tate displays exceptional concentration and has been a pillar of experience and competence for young Daniel Jones.
Darius Slayton was a diamond found in the rough of the fifth round, and kudos to Tyke Tolbert, the Giants’ wide receiver coach, who helped develop the young stud out of Auburn. There’s no wonder why Tolbert was retained on this coaching staff, and one would hope he has another exciting young receiver to work with this season.
Both Shepard and Tate are of similar builds and even, to a lesser extent, are somewhat analogous in terms of their athletic capabilities. Good athletes that are reliable, but aren’t the true “X” type of receivers that have been featured in prior Jason Garrett offenses, such as Terrell Owens, Miles Austin, and Dez Bryant, do not grow on trees.
There is a need for bigger, stronger receivers who occupy the outsides and can win 50/50 balls with ease. In the 2020 draft, there are plenty of wide receiver options, and a lot of these options can fit this mold.
This brings us to Brandon Aiyuk, who at the Senior Bowl measured in just a hair under 6-foot and 201 pounds. Yet, he has a wingspan of 81 inches, which, for reference, is bigger than the offensive tackle from Houston (Josh Jones), the offensive tackle from Auburn, (Prince Tega Wanogho), and the majority of edge prospects that were down in Mobile.
Aiyuk has monstrous 10-inch hands, which are the same size as Odell Beckham Jr's. Aiyuk isn't overly tall, but he’s physically impressive, and he combines that with exceptional playmaking ability, athleticism, and separation capabilities.
His burst, ability to make people miss in space, and acceleration are incredibly impressive. If Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III, and Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb weren’t in this draft, Aiyuk’s name would probably be getting more buzz.
Aiyuk played alongside N'keal Harry at Arizona State, where he only had 33 catches for 474 yards and three touchdowns. Harry went to the Patriots in the first round last year, and Aiyuk goes off in 2019 for 65 catches and 1192 yards, along with eight touchdowns, with a high 18.3 yards per catch.
Give Aiyuk a free release at the line of scrimmage and start hoping nothing bad happens to your defense, as he excels while not getting pressed at the line of scrimmage. His ability to defeat press coverage at the line of scrimmage isn’t crippling, but work must be done in this area to maximize his potential.
Outside of that, it’s hard to find many things about his game not to love. He’s competitive, has all the athletic traits one would want, and he’s tough to tackle in space.
Why He’s a Fit
Despite lacking ideal height, Aiyuk has every bit of X-receiver written all over him. He plays bigger than he measures height-wise; his length and wingspan will test above 90% in the history of the position; and his ability to “climb the ladder” and win in contested catch situations, with physicality and very good body control, is terrific.
He has great concentration and tracking ability with the ball in the air, and he plays with a high level of awareness near the sideline and in the endzone.
I have no doubt that Jason Garrett would prefer a true “X” receiver in his offense, but I don’t necessarily believe the receiver has to be a big body in terms of height.
Aiyuk can fill this role, plus more. He can do everything that an offense will ask of him. With his explosive nature, getting the ball in his hands is paramount for whatever team is lucky enough to draft him. I would look for Aiyuk’s name to be called sometime in early Day 2.
This draft is so unique with all the talent at Aiyuk’s position, so crazier things have happened if he slides a bit.