From now until the 2019 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to showcase as many prospects as possible and examine both their strengths and weaknesses. Most of these profiles will feature individuals that the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have an interest in, while a few others will be top-ranked players. If there is a player you would like us to analyze, let us know in the comments below.
#5 Andy Isabella/WR/5’8/186 lbs
- Versatility, played in the slot and out wide
- Lightning quick footwork
- Great route runner, footwork leaves DBs off balance
- Long speed
- Can take the top off a defense, vertical threat
- Has a very developed route tree
- Quick and elusive in the open field
- Willing blocker
- Body catcher
- Has a tendency to double catch balls that hit his hands
- Undersized at 5’9
- May struggle against press coverage in the pros
- Not going to win much at the point of attack
- 2018: 102 receptions, 1698 receiving yards, 13 touchdowns
- Career: 231 receptions, 3526 receiving yards, 30 touchdowns
- 2018 Consensus All-America
- Led NCAA in receiving yards in 2018
- Six games with 100 receiving yards or more in 2018
- Holds the UMass record for most receiving yards in a game (303 vs Liberty 2018)
It is a shame that UMass wide receiver Andy Isabella has had to wait until now to see some national exposure come his way. No receiver leads the NCAA in receiving yards, as Isabella did in 2018, by fluke or accident. Though UMass’s level of competition is nothing to write home about, Isabella brought a great form of consistency to the table, slashing defenses such as Liberty but also carving up defenses like Georgia and UCF as well.
When thinking of the NCAA’s leading receiver, Isabella’s body type would not seem to fit the description as he is just 5’10 and roughly 190 pounds. Size does not matter to the UMass receiver though, as Isabella has elite quickness and athleticism, which he illustrates in his route running.
Sheesh. Isabella is almost impossible to cover unless a defensive back is able to get their hands on him. His feet are lightning quick and his jab step leaves opposing cornerbacks tripping over their own feet. The UMass receiver had reps like the one above all week in Mobile, where he left cornerbacks stumbling on their own feet or falling flat on their face. Isabella has experience playing in the slot and he would be a nightmare to cover in that position.
Isabella is really tough to keep up with in the slot, his quickness and highly developed route tree are just too much for opposing defensive backs to keep up with. He does not give his route away as Isabella stays honest until the last possible second and then he hits you with a stutter step, or a head turn and then a moment later he is headed in the other direction. By being a very deceptive and smooth route runner, the UMass receiver can create more than enough separation to give his quarterback a large window to throw to.
The UMass receiver is more than just a slot receiver though as he played more than his fair share of snaps out wide. Once again, Isabella’s footwork shines through his tape here as he is a calculated assassin with his route running. Watch the stop and go double move again, as he baits the Boston College corner in and then turns up field and leaves him in the dust. Defenses are essentially conceding a big play anytime they decide to give Isabella a free release off the line as his speed and footwork are elite traits.
Gym rat, scrappy, hard worker, deceptively fast – throw all those terms out the window when it comes to Isabella’s play. The UMass receiver is a true vertical threat as he is a former track and field star, even beating Browns’ cornerback Denzel Ward in a track and field race once. His route tree is also very developed as Isabella was asked to run several routes from either the slot or out wide. From being a weapon in the screen game to running down the seam to even being a deep threat, the UMass receiver can do it all.
The one knock on Isabella’s game is that while he is a trusted and reliable pass catcher, he does have a habit of double catching balls that hit him in the hands. Just like on the play above, the UMass receiver has a pass hit him in the hands and he has to double clutch it in order to make the catch. Many of his catches can be described as body catches as well but then again, as long as he makes the catch, I really have no issue. It will be interesting to see how Isabella handles press coverage against bigger, stronger cornerbacks at the next level. That leads me to believe that he may be strictly a slot guy but he certainly has the release and footwork to develop into a versatile option.
Isabella stated that he previously ran a 4.26 hand timed 40-yard dash and if he runs anything close to that at the Combine while continuing to test well athletically, he could slip into day two.
Projection: Late Day Two
Games Watched: vs Georgia, vs Boston College, vs Mississippi State
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