Andy Isabella – Wes Welker 2.0?
Have we not heard this script before? A small, yet reliable wide receiver is undervalued heading into the draft. I sure have. Does anyone remember Wes Welker? At 5’8″, Welker went undrafted in 2005 after a stellar career at Texas Tech. Despite his size and the low expectations that came with it, Welker went on to have a very successful career in the NFL. Now, Andy Isabella, the 5’9″ receiver out of the University of Massachusetts Amherst is set to follow in Welker’s footsteps. But unlike Welker, Isabella will be drafted. What qualities does he have, and will the Ravens be the team to draft him?
Here are his combine stats and measurables:
- Height – 5’9”
- Weight – 188 lbs
- Arms – 29 3/4”
- Hands – 8 3/8”
- 40-yard dash – 4.31 s
- Bench press reps – 15 lbs
- Vertical jump – 36.5”
- Broad jump – 121.0”
- 3 cone drill – 6.95 s
- 20-yard shuttle – 4.15 s
As demonstrated at the NFL Combine, Andy Isabella is blazing fast. His 4.31-second 40-yard dash was the best score among all wide receivers. He was only tied by Ohio State’s Paris Campbell. This speed is not just a product of the combine’s tests either. On the tape, it is clear that Andy Isabella can accelerate off the line quickly to reach his ludicrous speed. Not only is he fast, but he is quick as well. He can stop on a dime and make cuts and jukes to escape the clutches of defenders. Naturally, this gives him great run after catch ability, and he is great at utilizing this skill. Isabella also has great hands. He catches nearly every ball in his reach.
Isabella started his collegiate career as a running back. He switched to wide receiver in his sophomore year, but always maintained a role as a runner. Throughout his time at Massachusetts, Isabella continually received reps as a runner, primarily through jetsweeps and toss plays. Isabella was productive as a runner, but of course, nowhere near the productivity he experienced as a receiver. In three years at Massachusetts, Isabella recorded 3519 receiving yards on 229 receptions. His final year at Massachusetts was by far his most productive. He caught 102 passes for 1698 yards. With this insane amount of production, one would expect him to take a lot of hits. He did, but he never missed a game between 2016 and 2018. He even played well against difficult opponents like the fifth-ranked Georgia Bulldogs near the end of the 2018 season.
Andy Isabella has many great attributes, but he does have some weaknesses that cannot be ignored. His most visible is his size. Despite his production, Isabella is undersized and compares poorly to NFL sized wide receivers. At just 5’9″ tall, Isabella may be faced with numerous unfavorable matchups. He will have to rely on his speed to create enough separation to make plays in the NFL. This also leads to other questions about his potential performance. In the NFL, how will he fare as a blocker? He will inevitably be paired up against bigger and stronger guys looking to get past him.
With his size comes even bigger concerns. Isabella measured in at the combine with short arms and small hands. His arm length is 29 3/4″ and his hand size is just 8 3/8″. As a result, his catch radius is small. He will likely be unable to reach out to or hold on to off-target/wobbly throws. Isabella will need to play with a passer how can thread the needle, otherwise, he will be confined to short and quick passes.
While there are some major concerns about Andy Isabella, enough talent and skill is there to give me confidence he will succeed in the NFL. But he must find the right system, one that knows how to use him. His perfect fit is obviously the Patriots, as he fits mold there. Another undersized yet productive wide receiver to end up in New England would be no surprise.
Grade – 6.4/10.0 – Third round pick.
NFL Comparison: Wes Welker
Should the Ravens Draft Andy Isabella?
The Ravens already have a dedicated slot receiver in Willie Snead. Andy Isabella would be a valuable asset, but Baltimore’s biggest wide receiver need is for an X, or outside wide receiver. Isabella is not that receiver. If the Ravens address that position first, then Isabella would be a good candidate for a mid-round addition.