San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said Arizona State's Brandon Aiyuk, the team's selection with the No. 25 pick in the 2020 NFL draft Thursday night, was the top-rated wide receiver on their board.
Aiyuk wasn't commonly mentioned as the best receiver prospect in this year's deep class. That honor was typically reserved for either Lamb or one of the Alabama standouts, Jerry Jeudy or Henry Ruggs III.
Bleacher Report's Matt Miller ranked Jeudy as the top wideout and the No. 5 overall player in the class on his final big board.
Six wide receivers ended up being selected in Round 1:
- 12. Las Vegas Raiders: Henry Ruggs III (Alabama)
- 15. Denver Broncos: Jerry Jeudy (Alabama)
- 17. Dallas Cowboys: CeeDee Lamb (Oklahoma)
- 21. Philadelphia Eagles: Jalen Reagor (TCU)
- 22. Minnesota Vikings: Justin Jefferson (LSU)
- 25. San Francisco 49ers: Brandon Aiyuk (Arizona State)
Aiyuk is coming off a strong 2019 season with the Sun Devils. He racked up 65 receptions for 1,192 yards and eight touchdowns in 12 games. No other ASU target tallied more than 45 catches or 616 yards.
The 22-year-old California native is still more of a work in progress than most of the other wideouts taken in the opening round, but his long-term upside could exceed the other five.
"I still have a lot to learn, so I have a lot to grow in my game," Aiyuk told reporters. "I just think that, for me, the ceiling is limitless. I don't think there's a ceiling to my game. That's another exciting part because I know that I can continue to get better."
He also discussed his optimism about stepping into Shanahan's offensive scheme with the Niners.
"I know this offense is crazy, with [George] Kittle, and Deebo [Samuel] and Kendrick Bourne. I just know that the offensive coordinator, coach Shanahan, is a great offensive coordinator," Aiyuk said. "He moves people around. Just the way that he manufactured touches for Deebo last year, and just gets everyone involved, I just know it's a scary offense. I'm very excited to get added to that offense."
He may not see a ton of volume as a rookie given those other key players in San Francisco's passing attack, but the reigning NFC champions had some leeway heading into the draft thanks to a strong all-around roster, and they're betting on Aiyuk's high upside to pay serious dividends over the long haul.