Brandon Aiyuk’s vertical routes are his main strength as a route runner. He’s a natural stemmer when facing off coverage, moving the defensive back off their spot and gliding by them in space. Easily has the speed to win down the field, stack the defensive back vertically and uncover. Most effective when given space at the line of scrimmage and tasked with vertical cuts, and can accelerate on bang-posts or slants.
While he’s had success in the vertical third, the rest of his route tree is underdeveloped. Aiyuk has the habit of false stepping coming out of his stance and at the to of his route, adding unnecessary time to his breaks. On top of that, he can drift on speed cuts due to a lack of shoulder lean and lowering of his pads. He really struggles at any route that task him with coming downhill, as his turns can be sluggish.
His press releases are shaky, as he too often drops his hands and can’t disengage from the jam. He struggles with he has to cross face of the defender because of his lack of hand usage or lateral agility.
Sluggish through any double moves or complicated routes, and he fails to get rid of tight coverage if he’s crowded during his vertical stem. His skill set suggests that he could work more in the slot to take advantage of free releases and routes against slower defenders.
Balanced and fluid in open space, with the acceleration to slice through closing creases. Will slip by potential tacklers going low and has enough strength to get through defenders who stack him up above the waist. While he’s not the most elusive player in space and there are cases of him misreading blocks, his speed is an obvious weapon as he can beat the angles of safeties. Had multiple long run after the catch touchdowns because of his acceleration through the catchpoint.
Hands / Ball Skills / Body Control
Some natural extension to the catchpoint, but he can have drops or double catches on easy throws. Will allow the ball to come into the body when facing the quarterback, adding to his struggles on curl routes. Will make adjustments to passes that are thrown behind him, but at his best when on the move and with the ball placed out in front of him to sprint through.
Generally strong effort as a blocker, especially against defensive backs who are in press coverage. Does an excellent job with his body positioning, and improved his base as the season wore on. You’d like to see him explode towards the blocks against defensive backs giving him more space, as his aggressive can waver.
- Productive – 65 receptions, 1,192 receiving yards and 8 touchdowns