The 49ers selected Brandon Aiyuk, Wide Receiver, out of Arizona State University. He was the 25th pick in the first round and was the sixth wide receiver drafted in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Brandon Aiyuk is 6’0” and 205 pounds. Aiyuk will be 22 at the beginning of the 2020 NFL season. Despite being a talented player, Aiyuk went to junior college due to academic reasons. After two years, he transferred to Arizona State as the 22nd ranked JUCO WR by 247 Sports, and 11th ranked JUCO WR by ESPN. Upon his arrival in Temple, Aiyuk took a backseat to N’Keal Harry who dominated the Sun Devil’s offense. Aiyuk then took college football by storm during his senior season.
Brandon Aiyuk broke out at the age of 21 (age during their first season with a 20% receiving dominator rating) in his second season at Arizona State. Aiyuk’s senior breakout season was also his best season at 21 years old. Aiyuk had 65 catches, for 1,198 receiving yards, and 8 scrimmage touchdowns for a receiving dominator rating (average percentage of their team’s receiving yards and receiving touchdowns) of 37.5% (69th percentile). Due to his late breakout, Aiyuk had poor age-adjusted production averaging 836 scrimmage yards (75th percentile) and 5.5 scrimmage touchdowns (57th percentile) in his two seasons at ASU. After taking a back seat to N’Keal Harry during junior season, Aiyuk dominated Arizona State’s offense with an average scrimmage dominator rating (average percentage of their team’s scrimmage yards and scrimmage touchdowns) per season of 15.9% (75th percentile). Buoyed by his incredible senior season, Aiyuk was extremely efficient and averaged 0.98 scrimmage yards per team play (78th percentile). He contributed on special teams by returning kicks in college. Aiyuk had 54 returns, for 1,078 return yards, and one return touchdown. He was explosive as a kick returner and his ability on special teams should ensure he sees the field early for returning kicks for the NFL Team.
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Brandon Aiyuk has a good height-adjusted speed score of 98.6 (66th percentile) after running a 4.50-second 40-time at the NFL Combine. He has an excellent burst score of 132.0 (92nd percentile). Aiyuk is a quick wide receiver with a solid frame that will use his athleticism to rack up yards after the catch and to separate from defenders at the NFL level.
NFL Landing Spot
San Francisco 49ers: 2019’s Cinderella team, went from a four win season in 2018 to a Super Bowl contender, who did the public health world a favor by losing. Kyle Shanahan’s second ranked offense ran the second lowest percentage of pass plays of any team in 2019, and ran fewer plays than two thirds of the rest of the NFL. The tenacious running game took a lot of the pressure off of GQ model turned QB, Jimmy Garoppolo. Despite his flop on the biggest stage, Garoppolo finished 2019 as the eighth highest rated passer, and was above average targeting most of the field. Any conversation about receivers needs a TE George Kittle disclaimer. He was the TE2 in 2019 and soaked up 22% of the team’s targets. For all intents and purposes, he is the team’s top receiver. Rookie Deebo Samuel was incredibly efficient as the second option and accounted for 17% of the targets. But the team’s WR2, Emmanuel Sanders, is gone. The rest of their depth chart is rounded out by Jalen Hurd, Kendrick Bourne, Trent Taylor, Marquise Goodwin, and 2019 uber-flop Dante Pettis. Hurd was a third round pick who profiles well and could be a great red zone player, but he missed all of 2019 and is an unknown. Any receiver that comes in has a clear opportunity to play, but they will always be behind Kittle and will have to compete with Samuel for fantasy-relevant targets in an offense that clearly relies on the run.
Rivals’ Rapid Analysis
Brandon Aiyuk is a late-breakout wide receiver that dominated in his final college season. Aiyuk will look to use his speed and quickness in the NFL. The 49ers invested first round draft capital into Aiyuk. He has good opportunity and will compete with Kittle, Samuel, and Bourne for targets from Jimmy Garoppolo.
Brandon Aiyuk moves to the top of Dave’s third wide receiver tier after being at the bottom of the third tier pre-draft. He now ranks within Dave’s rookie WR8-WR10 range, overall rookie 15-18. He’d target Aiyuk in the mid-second round of superflex rookie drafts (early to mid-second round of single QB). Hopefully, this doesn’t become Kyle Shanahan’s “Joe Williams” of wide receiver picks. Aiyuk will not be a wide receiver he will be targeting in rookie drafts and would rather take other players where Aiyuk most likely will be going by the time rookie drafts start. Aiyuk feels like a boom-bust pick in rookie drafts due to his later breakout age, dominant final year of college production, above-average athleticism, and high NFL draft capital.
Brandon Aiyuk is in the bottom of Shawn’s second wide receiver tier, Shawn’s WR10, and Shawn’s Overall Rookie Rank 19. Shawn would target Aiyuk in the early second round in superflex rookie drafts (Late first-early second round in single QB). A real surprise here, Aiyuk didn’t seem to be on any radars for a Day 1 selection, but low and behold, someone traded up for him. He has some red flags in his game and his late appearance on the big collegiate stage raises some concerns, but the bottom line here is that the 49ers are one of the better wide receiver landing spots in the NFL. Outside of Kittle and Samuel, there was no consistent pass catcher for this squad. Despite their crowded stable of RBs, this team does not frequently target them. This team has one of the lowest passing rates in the NFL, but Aiyuk is easily the third pass catcher on this team and should still see a relevant share of targets. He isn’t the flashiest receiver in this class, but if he can inherit the same role that Emmanuel Sanders had, he will be worth the rookie draft capital.
This article was written in collaboration with Shawn Kennedy. For more analysis check out Dave and Shawn’s previous articles at Dynasty Football Factory. Additionally, you can also find Dave’s dynasty superflex rankings at Dynasty Football Factory. Stay tuned for more rookie wide receiver rapid reaction articles from us throughout the entire NFL Draft. We will also give you instant reactions for priority UDFA wide receivers to help you try and find the next Adam Thielen. Interact with Dave and Shawn on Twitter @ff_spaceman and @ff_walrus. You can listen to our rivalry on our podcast @ATaleofTwoRivals with @ff_banterman.