The YAK continues to receive high praise despite missing the Senior Bowl.
Arizona State wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk spent his first two collegiate seasons at Sierra College in Rocklin, Calif., then played second-fiddle to future first-round pick N’Keal Harry, who was drafted by New England last year with the No. 32 overall pick.
As this past season progressed, though, more analysts and scouts took notice of Aiyuk, as he doubled his receptions (33 catches in 2018 to 65 in 2019) and more than doubled his reception yardage (474 yards to 1,192 yards).
— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) January 21, 2020
But it was his yards after catch where he made his mark. The former running back led all players in the 2020 NFL draft class with an average of 9.9 yards after the catch, according to Pro Football Focus, earning him the nickname YAK, as in, the Yards After King.
“My background is at running back,” Aiyuk said in an interview with The Athletic’s Dane Brugler. “It’s like being a back again after the catch. I think it’s the strength of my game and it really makes a difference.”
“He needs more polish, but his ability to create yards after catch could get him some early reps while he’s still developing,” Zierlein wrote, adding the Aiyuk also has good size, speed and is a “natural pass-catcher who plays with good energy.”
With that said, Zierlein also said Aiyuk needs to improve his ability to get in and out of standard route breaks and his ability to handle contested catches.
Teams will also want to take a close look at his health, as Aiyuk missed the Senior Bowl with a “minor hip injury,” as reported by SunDevilSource.com.
However, if his medicals check out, expect the fringe-first rounder to land somewhere in the second round. Despite missing practices and the game, he still went through the other Senior Bowl weigh-in and team interviews, where he measured at 5-foot-11 3/4 inches and 201 pounds with a wingspan of 6-foot-9. His hands measured at 10 inches, which is great for a receiver.
The Athletic reports that Aiyuk is expecting to run the 40 in the low 4.4s.