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Playmaking receiver Brandon Aiyuk offers explosiveness after the catch

Jim Owczarski
Packers News
Arizona State Wide Receiver Brandon Aiyuk looks to the sideline during the first half of their game against Colorado University in Tempe on Sept. 21, 2019.

Latest in a Packers Prospects series looking at players Green Bay could select in the April 23-25 NFL draft.

GREEN BAY - Two drafts ago, Green Bay Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst used three picks on wide receivers – but they came in rounds 4-6. Since picking Davante Adams in the second round in 2014, the Packers haven’t selected a traditional receiver earlier than J’Mon Moore in the fourth round in 2018.

But after fielding a group that had only Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling as drafted players in the room in 2019, perhaps it’s time for the Packers to invest high draft capital in a playmaker such as Arizona State’s Brandon Aiyuk. Only 6 feet tall, which flies against Gutekunst’s stated desire for bigger bodies, Aiyuk plays with a wingspan that is larger than many defensive linemen and can go up and get the ball in traffic.

Aiyuk could also solve another issue that has plagued the Packers for some time: lack of explosiveness in the return game.

Age next season: 22.

Combine vitals: 4.5-second 40-yard dash, 40-inch vertical, 80-inch wingspan

Stats: 25% contested catch rate, 1,192 yards, 8 TD.

Pro Football Focus analysis: After two years of junior college, Aiyuk was immediately inserted into Arizona State's wide receiver rotation in 2018. He caught 33 balls that season for 474 yards and broke nine tackles. Little did we know that Aiyuk was about to be in store for a monster season in 2019. As the guy in Arizona State's offense, Aiyuk was targeted 99 times this year and hauled in 65 of them for 1,192 yards. He was damn near unstoppable after the catch with 14 broken tackles and 10.9 YAC average. He was not only a threat to take it to the house on screens and underneath, but was also productive downfield as well. His 384 deep receiving yards were the 38th most in college football even though he ranked 81st in deep targets (19).

Draftniks say: “Fantastic with the football in his hands. With the ability to line up outside or inside the formation, Aiyuk brings versatility and big-play potential at wideout. The Packers have talent in Davante Adams and Allen Lazard but nothing like the juice Aiyuk brings after the catch.” – Bleacher Report draft analyst Matt Miller.

“Averaged 8 yards per catch, 16 per punt return, 34 per kick return - he’s a playmaker with the ball in his hands. So it’s easier to get him the ball in his hands and it doesn’t take it as long for him to separate sometimes.” – ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay

Quotable: “At this point just know that you’re going to end up getting a lot of money. That’s only thing that you think about. You don’t think about where the money goes. Other places, especially taxes. I knew it, but I didn’t really understand it. So just where your money goes. He’s just trying to help me out with certain things that he knows that I might spend my money on. It’s just little things like that.” – Aiyuk on advice about finances he received from former NFL player and Arizona State coach Antonio Pierce.