What ASU's Brandon Aiyuk Learned From Former Teammate N'Keal Harry
One NFL prospect that is getting asked Patriots-related questions at the NFL Scouting Combine this week is Arizona State wide receiver, Brandon Aiyuk. He not only seems like a fit for New England given his skillset and where he is projected to go in the 2020 NFL Draft, but he also has chemistry with a current Patriot: N'Keal Harry.
Both Aiyuk and Harry played together in 2018 for the Sun Devils. Harry was obviously drafted by New England last year, and Aiyuk soon after slid into Harry's role as the No. 1 option in Arizona State's passing attack.
Aiyuk was asked by Andy Hart of WEEI on Wednesday at the combine what he learned from the Patriots' 2019 first-round pick. The first thing he said: confidence.
“N’Keal is a great player. Last year (from him I learned) confidence. You talk to N’Keal, he’s a really confident person, so that was one of the main things I took from him last year, when he decided to sit out the bowl game and I played in his spot. But the main thing he talked about was confidence.”
The next one was more technique-based. Aiyuk mentioned that Harry told him getting separation in the NFL, which is something Harry struggled with his rookie season, is important.
“N’Keal, he’s more of a bigger-body receiver. I talked to him last year, and he was saying that one of his things was separation,” said Aiyuk. “That’s a huge thing I was working on this season, just trying to define my route-running, being fluid in my breaks, getting in and out of them.”
Aiyuk is on the right track to NFL-longevity if he masters his two takeaways from Harry. Having the confidence to make any catch on the field and compete right away at the professional level is crucial. Failing to produce as a young, inexperienced receiver will have a wideout becoming irrelevant in the NFL very quickly. As for getting separation, Aiyuk should have a little bit easier of a time getting away from a defender based on his projected 40-yard dash time (Harry ran a 4.53, Aiyuk is projected to run in the 4.4s).
Based on projections and some extra intel, Aiyuk should be a bigger playmaker in the NFL than his former teammate. One source told PatriotMaven that "Harry is going to be good, but Aiyuk is going to be something special." But because Aiyuk is part of a historically deep receiver class, his talent is projected to go in the backend of the first round, or second round. Depending on how the Patriots' free agency goes next month, they could be in the market still for a receiver come draft time. If that's the case, Aiyuk could very well be in the running as a selection at No. 23 overall for New England.