What We Saw: Round 1 of the NFL Draft
Brandon Aiyuk, WR, 49ers
In a deep wide receiver class Brandon Aiyuk might not shine as much as the players picked ahead of him, but he is certainly explosive and talented. He was not playing Division 1 football until 2018 where he was overshadowed by the older N’Keal Harry. But in 2019, after Harry left for the NFL, Aiyuk exploded. He posted an incredible 10.9 YAC which truly highlights his ability. He is not just a gadget player, Aiyuk was also asked to go down the field and excelled at that as well.
The 49ers offense is built on speed and explosiveness and with Emmanuel Sanders leaving, there certainly was a need at wide receiver. It will be worth monitoring how the target share breaks out for the top players in this run heavy offense. It will be hard to determine anything clearly until we see a few games, however, I think Aiyuk could find similar production to Sanders once he gets himself established. The question of off season training will linger over every rookie, and will likely slow things down for Aiyuk. For redraft leagues he is probably a later flier, but in dynasty, his value is relatively high being in an offense that should support him long term.
Effect on New Team
The 49ers traded back into the 1st round to draft Aiyuk which likely means they thought he would be an important cog in their offense. He fits the “number 1, outside, x” WR profile better than Deebo Samuel although Deebo will likely be the more heavily targeted player in 2020. The most essential part of Aiyuk’s game is his ability once the ball is in his hands. Like the Niners other weapons, George Kittle and Deebo, he will punish teams in space. This is clearly a Shannahan strategy and Aiyuk makes an already terrifying offense scarier.