Often times, it’s easy or unfair to compare a college prospect coming out of the draft to a player that played at the same school. In this instance, it’s almost impossible to not get flashbacks. Especially because Brandon Aiyuk and N’Keal Harry were collegiate teammates. In a really deep wide receiver class, where does Brandon Aiyuk stand? Are there lessons we can learn from when N’Keal Harry was drafted?
A year ago, I wasn’t super high on N’Keal Harry. The biggest reason why is because he didn’t separate well in college. Here is a shocking development. He doesn’t separate in the NFL either. It was easy to fall in love with Harry coming out of the 2019 NFL Draft. He made highlight reel catches and made people miss after the catch. Luckily, I saw the cheese is being set. I just didn’t fall for it. Separation is king. Harry can’t do it.
Enter Brandon Aiyuk who comes in and basically was Harry in 2019 for Arizona State. The same traps are there. Aiyuk isn’t a great route runner and Arizona State had to utilize him a certain way. 70% of his targets came on slants, posts, or deep balls. Don’t ask him to do anything else because those are your three options. He can break tackles and win after the catch. I could be talking about either guy.
The only difference is Harry was 6-foot-4. Aiyuk is just 6-foot but has a 6-foot-8 wingspan. Both guys were good after the catch but Arizona State used Aiyuk as a returner. Outside of that, same guy except Harry was the much better player when they were both on the same field.
N’Keal Harry 2018: 73 receptions, 1,088 yards, 9 touchdowns
Brandon Aiyuk 2019: 65 receptions, 1,192 yards, 8 touchdowns
Weird right? Essentially the same production. Okay, now check this out.
Harry: 4.53 – 40 time, 38.5 vertical
Aiyuk: 4.50 – 40 time, 40 vertical
Same school, same guy. They’re so similar that neither ran the 3 cone or any shuttle drills at the combine either. Hint: It’s because their change of direction skills stink. Harry is taller and stronger. Aiyuk is shorter and longer. Other than that, same guy.
A year ago, N’Keal Harry was a first round pick. I didn’t agree with it. I thought Deebo Samuel, AJ Brown, and DK Metcalf were much better options coming out of the draft. You can see for yourself.
This year we have a similar situation. One of these teams is going to talk themselves into Brandon Aiyuk being a first round prospect but it’s not the case. If Jerry Jeudy and CeeDee Lamb are first rounders, someone like Aiyuk should go at least 2 rounds later. Especially in a draft as deep as this one.
There’s a chance Aiyuk makes an impact in the NFL. He was a Juco prospect not too long ago and still has room to go. Still, I think it exemplifies a bit of the problem with what’s going on with the draft experts. Every draft expert is throwing 6-8 wide receivers in their mock draft when a good number of them will flop. Aiyuk has too many red flags to be taken so high. All you have to do is look to a year ago. His former teammate didn’t belong in the first round either.