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Andy Isabella Could Give The Redskins Passing Game A Big Boost

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Hogs Haven takes a look at 2019 NFL Draft prospects who could contribute to the Redskins

NCAA Football: Massachusetts at Mississippi State Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Andy Isabella, WR
School: UMass | Conference: Independent
College Experience: Senior | Age: 22
Height / Weight: 5’9” / 186 lbs
Projected Draft Status: 3rd Round
NFL Comparison: Former NFL Player Wes Welker

College Statistics

Player Overview

For those dismissing Andy Isabella’s ability as a game changing receiver due to his size, it’s time to take notice....he is the real deal. Isabella was a 3-star recruit coming out of Mayfield, Ohio, where he was the Division I State Champion in the 100m dash as a Senior at Mayfield High School. Despite his blazing speed, he was overlooked by the Power 5 football schools because of his smaller build. Without an offer from a major program, he accepted a chance to play for Coach Mark Whipple at UMass.

Isabella flourished with the Minutemen, especially in his Senior year. In 2018, he led the country in receiving yards (1698) and receiving yards per game (141.5); and was second in the nation in receptions (102). This effort was solid enough to make him a runner-up for the Biletnikoff Award (Nation’s top receiver) and garnered him AP Second-Team All-American honors. While some may look at those numbers and just chalk them up to playing against inferior teams, he regularly stepped up his efforts versus top competition. This was highlighted by the last game of 2018 where the Senior WR torched the Georgia Bulldog’s secondary to the tune of 15 receptions, 219 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Isabella received an invitation to play in the Senior Bowl and showed well in Mobile, Alabama. He received regular praise from analysts during the practice week and shined on game day (7 catches, 74 yards and 1 TD). However his most notable take away from Senior Bowl week was when he told reporters that he runs a 4.26 40-yard dash (we’ll see about that in Indy). He is now rumored to be working out in Florida with Hall of Famer Randy Moss in preparation for the combine.

Strengths

  • Has plenty of speed, with multiple gears, that can take the top off of a defense and create issues for opposing coordinators
  • Shows excellent short area quickness that makes him elusive and allows him to rack up YAC
  • Consistently runs clean routes and makes lightning fast cuts that allow him to get open regularly
  • Plays with good balance and can be “slippery” for tacklers
  • Appears to have a high football IQ as he regularly finds the soft spots in zone coverage
  • Plays with a high motor and is a tough competitor

Weaknesses

  • Short height and arm length give him a small catch radius for an NFL receiver
  • He needs to get stronger as he does not do well when attempting to make tough contested catches against physical defensive backs
  • Blocking leaves a lot to be desired as he doesn’t get a lot of push on his defender
  • Small hands (8.5 inches) may be of concern to a few clubs

Let’s See His Work

How He Would Fit The Redskins

As it stands now (Spoiler Alert!) the Redskins need help at wide receiver on multiple levels. We are lacking a true #1 WR and we could very well be losing our primary slot receiver, Jamison Crowder, to free agency. By adding Isabella to the mix, the Redskins would be gaining field stretching speed and a reliable target for whoever is going to be taking the helm at QB for us this year. While he could play on the outside, Isabella is best suited to play in the slot. While the team already employs last years Mr. Irrelevant, Trey Quinn, who can take over the slot role if Crowder was to depart via free agency, Isabella would represent a much better upgrade. Quinn doesn’t possess nearly the physical talents or sharpened skill set that Isabella has.

Also, with Isabella’s speed and short area burst, he would be able to come in on day one and replace Crowder as the team’s primary punt returner. Even if Crowder stays with the team I can’t image anyone wants to see him fielding more punts. He put way too many of them on the turf. It has been a while since the Redskins have had a true threat on special teams. Isabella could be that guy.

There will be plenty of fans who will be calling for a WR with a prototypical build to be drafted as the receiver that we had hoped Josh Doctson would be. A true #1 with a combination of speed and size. While Isabella clearly lacks the size, he does possess game breaking speed. He also has the ability to get wide open; probably more so than any other WR prospect in this draft. With his penchant for being a ball hog at the position, it might be wise for the Redskins to overlook his shortcomings and realize the potential he has. Will Bruce and company have that type of vision come draft time? Stay tuned Skins fans.