He wasn’t the first name off the board, in fact he was the 62nd. In the 2019 NFL draft in the second round with their third pick, the Arizona Cardinals selected Andy Isabella from UMass.
You’d be forgiven for not knowing who he was if you didn’t dive fairly deep into college football. Isabella plied his trade in the NCAA Division 1 Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS).
Isabella isn’t your standard looking wide receiver:
4.31 40 dash.
Apart from that quick 40 time (tied 3rd in this year’s combine with Paris Campbell) you’ve probably clocked Andy Isabella isn’t blessed with height and you’re probably concerned at that point and maybe some of you have flat outright said next please but before you pass by him completely there are a few point for consideration.
For a wide receiver to be under average height and still be selected by a team there must be something about him, right? And after trawling through over an hour’s worth of clips and highlights on YouTube I can really understand why the Cardinals and the new regime chose to take the risk.
He’s an undersized receiver that has the ability to (and frequently did) destroy corner backs at the line of scrimmage. Andy Isabella can go from zero to top speed in the blink of an eye and what’s more impressive is that it’s not just straight line speed. Unknowingly to me, he can stop on a penny, change direction and be back at top gear sped again with ease. This unassuming player leaves corner backs dumbfounded on a regular basis.
With Isabella being small in stature, the obvious comparisons between him and the likes of Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman are always going to be drawn, useful slot receiver guys. Guys that move the chains for their teams and ultimately pick up first downs. But Andy Isabella has something different about him, he’s a versatile receiver with tremendous athleticism. He can play slot but also on the outside just as effectively as guys that are 6″ taller than him. He’s also an excellent return man too. This guy is a small but dangerous package. He has the ability to create separation within a second. Not only on scripted plays does Isabella show his knowledge of the game and routes. When the stuff really hits the fan, he has this real knack of being in the right place at the right time. He knows where to run on an unscripted play to help out his quarterback and Murray, the rookie Heisman trophy winner will really appreciate having a guy like that he can swing the ball to. I believe a real bond will be built there, they will really compliment each other.
This super explosive athlete dominated during his time at Umass being their sole offensive weapon. He managed to put up some serious numbers and not just against a weaker division. In the three seasons Andy played at wide receiver (in his Freshman year Isabella played as a running back) he played eight games against opponents belonging to the Power 5 conferences. During those eight games he collected 47 receptions for 738 yards, an impressive feat for this small sized receiver. For the rest of his stats in those three seasons Andy Isabella turned out for 36 games and amassed 229 receptions for 3,519 yards and 30 TD’s, that’s and average of 15.3 yards per play! Andy Isabella isn’t a one year wonder or hyped up pre draft on social media, his numbers speak for themselves.
Kingsberry, the new head coach in Arizona made Isabella his first pick as a wide receiver. Coach has been noted saying that Andy Isabella has great strength for his size, although being small he’s of a stocky build.
Andy Isabella is going to be a PPR machine. I know if you look at the depth chart you will question my choice but Larry Fitzgerald isn’t getting any younger and unfortunately for Kirk he was part of the old guards selection. This doesn’t mean the end for Kirk but after selecting three receivers in this years draft it does mean there are more mouths to feed.
Worryingly the Cardinals didn’t address there O-Line issues but that’s probably going to play into my hands with the point I’m making. Kyler Murray is going to have to throw the ball more, then have David Johnson and Co run it due to weak protection offered in front of them.
I think you should be able to pick up Andy Isabella up late second round, early third in a rookie draft. If the relationship between him and Kyler Murray turns out half as good as the one between Julian Edelman and Tom Brady, we are in for a real treat.
It may take a season for him to fully bed in but mark my words, he will be a PPR point scoring machine.
photo from: revengeofthebirds.com/