Rookie Scouting Report: Wide Receiver Andy Isabella
Andy Isabella, Massachusetts
Weight: 188 pounds
40-yard dash: 4.31 seconds
Vertical Jump: 36.5 inches
Broad Jump: 121 inches
3-Cone Drill: 6.95 seconds
When most look at a receiver who’s 5-foot-9, they automatically assume he’s a slot player. Is that the case with Isabella? Do you want to waste the speed of someone who ran an extremely impressive 4.31-second 40-yard dash which tied for the fastest among all wide receivers at the Combine? While history suggests you don’t want receivers that small on the perimeter, the NFL is changing as we know it.
While at Massachusetts, Isabella was extremely impressive in the box scores. After tallying 62/801/7 his sophomore season, he took a step forward his junior season when he posted 65/1,020/10, but then demolished the competition his senior year when he tallied 207 more yards than any other receiver in the NCAA in 2018. His 102 receptions were impressive, but his 1,698 yards in just 12 games was straight-up ridiculous. Not just that, either, as he tallied a career-high 13 touchdowns, which ranked sixth in the nation.
Size/Versatility: 2.0 out of 5 stars
His size is obviously not ideal, as he’s much smaller than you’d prefer, but he’s not a scrawny player at 188 pounds. By comparison, Will Fuller is listed at 186 pounds (he has three full inches on Isabella). As for his versatility, he can obviously be used in the slot, while also being used on reverses and screen plays on the perimeter. He was lined up outside for more than just trick plays, but you have to wonder about his ability to beat press coverage with bigger cornerbacks in the NFL. The biggest negative to his score here is his extremely small target area/catch radius.
Route Running/Ability to Separate: 3.0 out of 5 stars
Short-strider who’s able to change direction extremely quickly, though he does take longer to decelerate than I would’ve thought. That could be due to a combination of his speed and weight, which is high relative to most his height. He can evade press coverage with great footwork and quickness most of the time, but if the defender gets his hands on him, he’ll almost end the route. Knowing that he’ll have limited escape routes in press coverage, it’ll limit his time on the perimeter. There are improvements that can be made to his route running, as the tools are there, but refining his breaks where he uses too many stutter steps should be a priority. He does vary his speed in and out of breaks as necessary, allowing him to separate fairly easily.
Speed: 4.5 out of 5 stars
He’s extremely quick in his movements and would call him more quick than fast, though his 4.31-second 40-yard dash would suggest he’s also very fast. He also varies his speed extremely well, as he’ll allow a defensive back to believe the play isn’t designed for him, only to hit the turbo button and get five yards of separation behind the defense.
Hands: 2.0 out of 5 stars
Not the cleanest hands catcher, allows the ball to come into his body quite a bit, but it’s not that big of a deal when you consider the type of player he is. He does the “hop as the ball comes into his body” that Christian McCaffrey does so well, almost suspending his body in the air to cushion the blow of the ball and increase focus. I wish I’d see him catch the ball a bit cleaner, as it’s almost always shifting around in his cradle. When defenders are closer in the vicinity in the NFL, they’ll knock that ball out a lot more often. His hands were a bit inconsistent, though nothing too bad for a receiver who’ll play in the slot most of the time.
Awareness: 4.5 out of 5 stars
I’d call him a smart player who understand the impact of his decisions, as he may be coming across the middle of the field with the defender maybe a half-yard closer to the line of scrimmage than him, but Isabella will shift his route a full yard towards the line of scrimmage to cross in front of the defender to ensure he’s the first one who’d be able to get to the ball. He adjusts well to balls that are thrown behind him, even on shorter and intermediate routes, speaking volumes to his reaction time and awareness. He also tracks deep balls over his shoulder very well, not adjusting immediately, but rather waiting until the last moment possible in order to not give away ball location.
After the Catch: 2.0 out of 5 stars
He’s not going to break tackles due to pure strength, but he has phenomenal balance to shed tackles of those who try and sling him to the ground because of his small stature. But understand that if someone gets their hands on him and actually attempts to tackle him, they will. He’s shifty, though, and that’s why he ideally plays in the slot more than on the perimeter, so he can be a weapon used in space. He’s kind of what you’d think a guy who’s 5-foot-9 and 188 pounds to be after the catch, which is slightly below average, even if his balance is phenomenal.
Potential Landing Spot
After watching as much tape as I could get my hands on, Isabella does fit the slot mold, though he’s not going to be completely limited to that role. Still, you want to find a team who utilizes their slot receiver in different ways, so the Patriots, Chiefs, Bucs, and 49ers are all possible fits. The Chiefs did work him out, so there’s a connection. With Chris Conley out of town and Tyreek Hill in potential trouble, they make the most sense. Andy Reid is also a coordinator who would find the best way to utilize Isabella’s strengths.
I believe there’s some differences in their body types, but Tyler Lockett is someone who Isabella can be compared to. Lockett does his best work in the slot and has massive speed to stretch the field no matter where he is on the field. We saw him flourish with Doug Baldwin missing time last year, which was likely due to him moving into the slot in what was almost a full-time role. Lockett isn’t built as solidly as Isabella is and can’t absorb some of the bigger hits, but they offer similar potential in an offense.