After losing Emmanuel Sanders and Marquise Goodwin this offseason, the San Francisco 49ers entered the 2020 NFL Draft needing wideout help. With their second pick of Round 1, the Niners grabbed Arizona State’s Brandon Aiyuk. Here are Aiyuk’s odds at Mybookie to win 2020 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year as well as the 49ers’ over/under win total.
San Francisco selected Aiyuk with the 25th pick of April’s draft. The 49ers traded picks No. 31, 117 and 176 for the 25th overall selection.
Aiyuk wasn’t a top recruit out of high school in Nevada and began his collegiate football career at little Sierra College. He was named a Junior College All-American in his sophomore season and then transferred to Arizona State, picking the Sun Devils over the likes of Colorado State, Kansas, Tennessee and Alabama.
Aiyuk chose Arizona State because it was one of the few schools that recruited him to play wide receiver instead as only a return specialist – he had two long TD kick returns at Sierra — or planned to move him to defensive back.
As a junior at ASU, Aiyuk played in every game and had 33 catches for 474 yards and three touchdowns. He was second on the team in receiving yards behind eventual Patriots first-round pick N’Keal Harry. Aiyuk also had 381 total return yards serving as both a punt and kick returner.
Last year, he took over as the clear-cut No. 1 with Harry gone. Aiyuk finished with 65 catches for 1,192 yards and eight touchdowns. The yards were the fifth-most in ASU single season history and he was within 18 of fourth and 56 of third. Aiyuk was in the FBS in regular season in yards after the catch with 710, while his 10.9 yards after the catch per reception were the 12th-most nationally. He was first in the Pac-12 with 3.04 yards per route run on the season.
Six of his eight touchdown receptions in 2019 were for more than 30 yards (77 yards vs. Kent State, 53 yards vs. Colorado, 40 yards vs. WSU, 86 yards vs. WSU, 33 yards vs. WSU, 81 vs. ORE). Aiyuk was one of only three receivers with two 80+ yard receiving touchdowns on the year (Arkansas State’s Omar Bayless and Louisville’s Chatarius Atwell). His six catches over 50 yards were second in nation in the regular season while his nine 40+ yard catches were third and three 70+ grabs were second. When quarterbacks targeted him, they recorded a 133.9 NFL rating in 2019, which was good for 10th in the country in the regular season.
Aiyuk had 1,870 all-purpose yards in the regular season (sixth nationally) on just 94 total plays (19.9 yards per touch, which was fourth nationally). The five players ahead of Aiyuk were all running backs and each had at least 245 total touches. He was the only player in the country to record at least 200 yards on both punt (226) and kick (446).
Aiyuk became the seventh Arizona State wideout ever drafted in the first round, joining the likes of Hall of Famer Charley Taylor (3rd overall, 1964) and most recently Harry (32nd overall, 2019).
He is 6-foot, 205 pounds with 4.50 40-yard speed, as well as terrific explosiveness and route-running ability. Aiyuk’s best asset is his post-catch production (10.5 RAC in 2019), which helped him to plenty of big plays at ASU. That home run ability caused Niners coach Kyle Shanahan to view Aiyuk as one of the two best receivers in the draft, along with Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb.
“I still feel like I haven’t even scratched the surface of what I can do as a football player and at the receiver position,” Aiyuk said. “I just think that for me, the ceiling is limitless. I don’t think there’s a ceiling to my game.”
There was concern in Aiyuk’s transition to the NFL as Pro Football Focus charted 70 percent of his yards occurring from three straight-line routes: screens (26%), posts (25%), and go-routes (19%).
Aiyuk doesn’t have a ton of competition for early-career snaps with the Niners, but certainly will be behind George Kittle and Deebo Samuel in terms of targets.