Arizona State wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk regrettably won’t be able to hit the field at the Senior Bowl this year, as he was flagged medically. But his 2020 NFL Draft stock won’t take a hit from the unavoidable absence. In fact, quite the contrary has already occurred.

Aiyuk’s appeal as a dynamic weapon at wide receiver has long been known; the Sun Devils star took the college football world by storm in 2019, catching 65 passes for 1,192 receiving yards and eight touchdowns in twelve games.

Aiyuk’s production matches up with his draft profile. While he isn’t the largest in stature, standing at around 6-foot-1, 206lbs, he has a good catch radius for his size, which helps him in contested situations. He also has an incredibly explosive burst, impressive short-range agility, and long speed, which coalesces into enticing ability after the catch.

In an NFL where finding and stretching space is imperative to offensive success, prospects like Aiyuk who have the speed and acceleration to maximize that space, are on the rise and that’s evident from the week that Brandon Aiyuk is having thus far. Aiyuk won’t be participating with other Senior Bowl receivers like Collin Johnson, Devin Duvernay, and Denzel Mims, and yet, he has the reputation of a top senior on the draft circuit.

Senior Bowl executive director Jim Nagy added fuel to the fire by declaring Aiyuk a future first-round pick in his press conference yesterday. Nagy went on to say that Aiyuk is graded higher than 2019 first-round pick and Arizona State alum N’Keal Harry by some NFL teams.

Harry, of course, was drafted No. 32 overall by the New England Patriots in the 2019 NFL Draft. He was also lauded for his after-the-catch ability, but there were questions about his speed and dynamism. Aiyuk won’t have those concerns, as the tape is littered with examples of his explosive presence, and the impact it has on defenses.

Pro Football Network has long been aware of Aiyuk’s first-round upside. In November, NFL Draft writer Neil Driscoll stated that Aiyuk could potentially be picked at the tail end of Day 1, by a team like the New Orleans Saints, or another contender that values speed in its offensive arsenal. Even earlier, in October, our own A.J. Schulte made note of Aiyuk’s quick start to the 2019 season, in which he nearly matched his 2018 total in just five games. Schulte, in a comprehensive film breakdown, deduced that Aiyuk is “the complete package”, sure to give scouts a show in the pre-draft process.

It appears as though that show will have to wait, however. Brandon Aiyuk will not be competing at the Senior Bowl. But his presence still looms large. Aiyuk’s 2019 film is more than enough to cement his status as a potential first-round prospect, and come April, he could be the surprise that everyone should’ve seen coming.