Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports


ESPN calls 49ers rookie Brandon Aiyuk ‘unstoppable’ on this route

Jul 10, 2020 at 6:40 AM--


Best routes for rookie NFL wide receivers: Why CeeDee Lamb's out, Brandon Aiyuk's screen are unstoppable

It's right there in the title of Seth Walder's latest feature for ESPN. "Unstoppable." That word is high praise for a wide receiver, even if you are just looking at one specific route in his arsenal.

As the title of the ESPN feature suggests, the analyst took a look at 16 rookie receivers from this year's draft class and identified each's best and most productive routes over the past two seasons of college football. Walder also examined how each's skill might contribute to his new NFL team.

The San Francisco 49ers were so impressed by Arizona State's Brandon Aiyuk that they traded up to No. 25 overall to select him.

"He can play the X, he can play the Z, he can play the F," head coach Kyle Shanahan said of Aiyuk after drafting him. "He's got the speed to get on top. He's got the quickness to play in the slot. He's got the toughness to go over in the middle. And the guy is just completely committed, to me, to being as good as God ever intended him to be."

Walder identified the screen and quick routes as Aiyuk's best, saying that many of the 49ers' attempts on those types of plays will likely be diverted to Aiyuk this season.

"One has to imagine coach Kyle Shanahan will scheme up ways to get the rookie receiver the ball quickly to take advantage of his run-after-the-catch ability," Walder wrote. "Among qualifying receivers, Aiyuk ranked second in college football in yards after catch per reception over the past two seasons, behind only Alabama's DeVonta Smith."

Screens aren't Aiyuk's only strength, though. Walder was also impressed by what he saw out of the young receiver during his 17 post routes, which he says were run with "astronomical efficiency." Aiyuk actually led college football in yards per attempt on those routes, if you accept the small sample size.



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