49ers Draft ASU Wide Receiver Brandon Aiyuk

A year ago some wondered how Arizona State would replace star wide receiver N’Keal Harry. Now, many are asking the same thing about Brandon Aiyuk after the San Francisco 49ers selected him with the 25th pick in the first round of Thursday’s NFL draft. It marked back-to-back first round wide receiver picks for the Sun Devils after the New England Patriots took Harry with the 32nd pick last spring.

The 49ers traded up from the 31st slot in the first round to select Aiyuk. San Francisco lost wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders who signed a free-agent deal with the New Orleans Saints earlier this month.

The 6-foot-1, 206-pound former junior college transfer exploded last fall catching 65 passes for 1,1192 yards (18.3 per reception) with eight touchdowns. As a junior playing along side Harry, he posted 33 receptions for 474 yards and three scores.

Aiyuk possesses the unique combination of running back-like physicality and wide receiver elusiveness. A willing blocker on run plays, he’s also a threat in the return game with his shiftiness and ability to change direction in space.

Here’s what NFL Network Draft Analyst and NFL on FOX’s Charles Davis had to say about Aiyuk in a recent pre-draft interview with Brad Cesmat.

“I love him,” Davis said without hesitation. “I just think he’s “Mr. Big Play” waiting to happen every time the ball is snapped. For whatever it’s worth, my rating scale, I have him rated as a better prospect than N’Keal Harry coming out last year.”