The Broncos need receivers. We know it, they know it, and Elway has made sure the whole league is aware that he plans to address the group this spring. Fortunately, this upcoming Draft class looks historically loaded at the position.
But instead of spending a pick at the top of the first round on a Henry Ruggs, Jerry Jeudy, or CeeDee Lamb, perhaps Elway and the Broncos could take advantage of the depth of the class? There’s a real possibility that Brandon Aiyuk could be available on Day 2. If Shurmur wants a burner without having to spend an early pick, they could do a whole lot worse.
- Very good athlete, explosive acceleration and lateral quickness.
- Can throttle up and down in and out of routes.
- Foot speed apparent in his release.
- A weapon with the ball in his hands. One of the better Yard After Catch players in this class.
- Experience returning kicks and punts.
- Solid hands crazy arm span and ability to go up and get it.
- Adequate against press, could have issues with physicality early.
- Needs to improve at catching outside his frame.
- Limited production. Former JUCO product who didn’t ascend to WR1 until 2019.
What I’ve heard/read:
Brandon Aiyuk is a dynamic receiving prospect who possesses an exciting ceiling at the NFL level. Thriving in vertical routes and in run after catch scenarios, Aiyuk is a height/weight/speed mismatch who showcases splendid short area quickness, explosiveness and ability to stress coverage vertically. He’ll need to hone is releases versus physical press coverage but in the meantime Aiyuk could find immediate success in the slot while honing boundary skills.
- The Draft Network’s Kyle Crabbs
Brandon Aiyuk was a bit of an anticipated projection coming into the season. Stepping into the No. 1 receiving role for the Sun Devils, he lived up to what the coaching staff thought he could be after heavily recruiting him from the JUCO ranks. The positive aspect about Aiyuk is that every stop that he’s been on, he’s been able to get better while also dominating the competition. He demonstrated that same type of progress in high school, JUCO, and a similar type of path unfolded during his final season in Tempe.
Now, entering the NFL, he’s once again forced with unlocking another layer to his development. An explosive option after the catch, but it’s everything before that where he needs to improve. Using his hands on releases, details in route stems, and at the top of his routes are where he must become better. Aiyuk projects as a top-40 pick that has a chance to be a productive target near the top of a receiving corps with time.
- The Draft Network’s Jordan Reid
Ascending receiving prospect who has shown continued improvement since coming from the JUCO ranks. Aiyuk has size, speed and is a natural pass-catcher who plays with good energy but he must improve physicality to handle contested catches. He can be slick and instinctive to separate out of stems and turns, but getting in and out of standard route breaks tends to limit his effectiveness. He needs more polish, but his ability to create yards after catch could get him some early reps while he’s still developing. He has the potential to develop into a WR3.
Aiyuk is one of the most explosive wideouts in an incredibly deep class. That explosiveness has already translated to his routerunning and after the catch ability at Arizona State. You need a big-play threat, Aiyuk is your man.
- Pro Football Focus’ Mike Renner
Why he fits
It’s no secret that John Elway stated the need for speed this offseason. Since his end of the 2019 season presser all eyes have been focused on Henry Ruggs III for this reason. The thing is there is more than one way to skin a cat, just as there’s multiple burners in this historically deep receiving class. Aiyuk’s 4.5 40 at the NFL Combine hides the fact that his start/stop acceleration is very good and he brings the ability to change direction and shift gears in a way only a small handful can. Combine that with his ability to return and he has the potential to contribute early in his NFL career as he refines the necessary skills to grow into a dynamic vertical threat and number two receiver for the Broncos.
Rumors continue to persist that Denver will need to trade up into the fringe top 10, or higher, if he wants Henry Ruggs III. Rather than give away draft picks with a roster still lacking depth at key spots like cornerback, offensive line, running back and receiver, he could instead elect to move down. Aiyuk won’t go in the top 14 picks of this draft but under the right tutelage has the potential to grow into one of the most dangerous receivers from this crop.
Would you be happy if the Broncos drafted Brandon Aiyuk?
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