Name: Andy Isabella
Position: Wide Receiver
With his Senior Bowl performance and perceived underdog status, Isabella has emerged as an early fan favorite in this year’s receiver class. However, he is far from a “lunch pail” guy. He is a supremely quick, efficient, dynamic receiver who will provide a strong option in the mid rounds.
While the size is going to ultimately push Isabella to the day three range, there is plenty of precedent for players like Isabella making it in the league. Names such as Antonio Brown, Wes Welker, Steve Smith and DeSean Jackson have turned in All-Pro seasons, despite being around 5-foot-9, 5-foot-10. Now, Isabella would fit more in line with Brown and Welker as a short area possession receiver, at least initially. His size limits his ability as a high-pointer, and could cause struggles when making plays in traffic. But he is tough and has great hands, so the size should not be all that limiting of a factor.
While his short stride length could theoretically be a barrier to truly elite top speed, Isabella’s legs move so quickly that he makes up for it. He can get to top speed in the blink of an eye with a burst that is frankly jaw-dropping at times. That also contributes to his tremendous change-of-direction ability. As far as putting numbers to it, a safe guess would be Isabella running in the sub-4.4 range at the combine. Where he will really shine, however, is in the agility drills. That step-to-step quickness should make Isabella an early asset at least in the screen game and as a returner.
Strength and Athleticism
As far as toughness goes, Isabella is not lacking. However, his diminutive frame is going to limit his play style a bit at the next level. He thrives in space, not nearly as much through contact. Bigger defensive backs can overpower him at the line of scrimmage and he does not break tackles so much as make defenders miss, so he will probably be best suited as a slot in the NFL. He is not going to wow with verticality either, not because he lacks leaping ability, but rather because his catch radius is so limited by his size. However, his twitchy style is going to get him open early and allow him to maneuver in the open field where he is much more comfortable.
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The hands are consistent and solid, almost always catching the ball away from the body. Again, his catch radius limits his “highlight grabs,” but chances are if the ball is thrown Isabella’s way, he will bring it in. He tracks balls well on deep throws and hospital throws, so he can make plays downfield in traffic thanks to superior positioning. He makes catches from all angles, over the shoulder, in stride or while taking a hit.
Isabella sells every step with efficiency and believability. He can run the full tree, all three levels. He sets up his cuts with convincing jab steps, can break down off vertical routes in the blink of an eye and plays off the defender’s coverage with ease. Isabella has an impeccable ability to find the soft spots in the defense and hits them quickly and in time. He can get separation against all manner of defender, any level of competition thanks to his quick twitch routes. Some may question his production given he played at UMass, but he was open time and time again against Georgia, finishing with over 200 yards on 15 catches. The guy simply knows how to find space.
Minnesota’s lack of receiving depth has stung them in the past. While Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen put up big numbers last year, as teams keyed in on them and forced Kirk Cousins to look elsewhere, the offense stalled. Laquon Treadwell simply will not cut it anymore as the number three guy.
As a mid-round prospect, Isabella provides immediate contributor upside from the slot. Despite his size, his hands and route running ability should translate. His short area quickness and speed could come in handy in punt returns, particularly with Marcus Sherels aging. Imagine him, a top notch route runner, working off of Diggs and Thielen, two of the best route runners in the game. The combination fits perfectly, especially if the Vikings input more quick passing under Kevin Stefanski.
–Sam Smith is the Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage Vikings and Deputy Editor for Full Press NFL. Like and Follow @samc_smith.
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