The New England Patriots could potentially add a homegrown star in the 2019 NFL Draft. UMass wide receiver Andy Isabella is one of the top wide receiver prospects and has a perfect skillset for New England’s offense. Isabella spent the past four years playing football less than two hours away from Gillette Stadium and could continue to grow as a Massachusetts legend.
New England Patriots 2019 NFL Draft Targets: Andy Isabella
It’s not hyperbole to say that Andy Isabella was the UMass offense. Playing on a roster void of superstar talent, the UMass Minutemen funneled their entire offense through Isabella’s elite tools. Opposing defenses knew Isabella would get the ball, and yet they still couldn’t do a thing to stop him. During his final year in college, Isabella recorded 102 receptions for 1,698 yards and 13 touchdowns. The second-leading receiver on the team, Sadiq Palmer, had just 28 receptions for 419 yards.
Isabella primarily lines up in the slot, but he’s a much different player than Julian Edelman and Wes Welker. The Ohio native has blazing speed with the ability to beat defenses deep. According to Pro Football Focus, Isabella finished the 2018 season with the second-most deep passing yards in the nation (705). He showed his collegiate production can translate to the NFL when he recorded a 4.31-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine.
Isabella has the ability to win at all levels of the field against a wide variety of coverages. Opposing defenses threw just about everything they had at Isabella, and he still managed to get open and dominate games. Isabella has the ideal combination of collegiate production and athletic prowess and is a relatively safe prospect at one of the hardest positions to scout.
The UMass Minutemen didn’t face the strongest competition in 2018. While Isabella faced off against the best the opposing defense had to offer, he didn’t always face NFL-caliber defenders. Additionally, Isabella still needs to develop as a route runner and doesn’t have a great catch radius.
While Isabella didn’t face elite competition that often, he performed well when matched up against the best of the best. Isabella faced off against a 13th-ranked Georgia squad in the final game of the season and still looked like the best player on the field. UMass lost the game, but Isabella did everything in his power to drag his team to victory. The Senior finished his night with a staggering 15 receptions for 219 yards and two touchdowns.
Isabella still needs to work on his route running in the short portion of the field, but he has raw athletic ability to improve this portion of his game. The Patriots offense requires a lot of quick cutting and lateral agility, and the best way to test that ability is via the three-cone drill. Isabella recorded a 6.95-second three-cone time, finishing in the 47th percentile among wide receivers. He’ll never have Julian Edelman’s quickness, but he’s certainly good enough to develop into a strong all-around route runner.
Isabella’s catch radius will always be a weakness, but that’s not too big of a deal in New England’s offense. Tom Brady is still one of the most accurate quarterbacks in the league and is capable of placing the ball wherever he wants. As long as he’s open, Brady will hit him in stride. Edelman, Welker, and Danny Amendola didn’t have great catch radii, but their time in New England turned out ok.
Bottom Line on Andy Isabella
Andy Isabella is a slot receiver the likes of which New England has never seen. The UMass product is one of the fastest players in the draft and has the ideal combination of collegiate production and athletic prowess. He’s capable of taking the top off the defense and can get open at all levels of the field. He proved he can handle being the focus of an offense, as UMass ran their entire scheme through Isabella.
Isabella didn’t consistently face elite competition in college, but he continued to produce against the best of the best. The only true flaws in his game are his relative struggles at the top of routes and his low catch radius. While the catch radius basically is what it is, Isabella has the ability to develop into a strong route runner at all levels of the field. He’s already serviceable in the short area, but he still has room to grow.
The 2019 NFL Draft is stacked to the brim with talented wide receivers, so it’s not like Isabella is the only good option out there. However, the UMass product would immediately fit in New England’s offense while providing a deep threat never seen from a New England slot receiver. Look for the Patriots to grab him if the Ohio native is still on the board midway through the second round.
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