Andy Isabella Will Be a Big-Time Playmaker for the Arizona Cardinals
One day after selecting Kyler Murray with the first overall selection of the 2019 NFL Draft, the Arizona Cardinals traded away last season's first round pick, quarterback Josh Rosen, to the Miami Dolphins.
With one of the draft picks garnered from this trade, they selected Massachusetts wide receiver Andy Isabella.
Isabella comes into the NFL as one of the most productive wide receivers of the entire 2019 class, thanks in no small part to a tremendous final season at UMass.
In that final season, Isabella had 102 receptions for 1,698 yards in 2018, with 13 receiving touchdowns to boot.
This marked Isabella's second consecutive 1,000-yard season and his third straight season with at least 800 yards. Isabella amassed 200 more yards than the next closest player in college football last season, with his total output good for a 52.2% dominator rating, according to PlayerProfiler. Only Malone's Ashton Dulin had a higher mark among the 2019 wide receiver crop.
Isabella showcased his speed at the NFL Scouting Combine, running a 4.31-second 40-yard dash...eventually. There was a glitch with the speed gun during his initial run, and a time of 4.46 was posted. Thankfully, this was corrected, giving him a share of the fastest 40 time in this year's class with the more heralded Parris Campbell, whom the Indianapolis Colts selected three picks prior.
Noted draft analyst Lance Zierlein likes Isabella's ability to "re-accelerate after fakes, breaks and cuts", traits which Zierlein believes will help him transition to life in the NFL.
Zierlein believes that a good player to compare to Isabella is Phillip Dorsett, who was a first round selection by the Colts in 2015. Isabella and Dorsett certainly boast similar size and speed, with Dorsett clocking a 4.33-second 40-yard dash time during his pre draft build up. But from a production standpoint, Dorsett is a long way back from what Isabella was able to achieve in college.
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Matt Miller of Bleacher Report compared Isabella to another speedster in the NFL, namely Marquise Goodwin of the San Francisco 49ers. Miller also pointed out that Isabella's size, or lack thereof, may lead to Isabella being "viewed as a slot-only receiver, which will work for some teams but might limit his draft prospects."
Given his height, which he cannot control, Isabella may be destined for a career inside, but a slot receiver boasting 4.31 wheels getting a free release off the line of scrimmage is going to produce the odd splash play, don't you think?
Besides, with NFL teams lining up with three wide receivers on 66% of their total plays last season, according to Sharp Football Stats, it's not as if NFL teams don't need slot receivers. Isabella was the number-four wide receiver on JJ Zachariason's pre-draft rankings, as mentioned on the Late Round Podcast on April 23rd.
After seeing Rosen struggle through his rookie, and only, season with the team, the Cardinals seem to have put a much better support network in place for Murray.
Isabella looks set to be part of the Cardinals' top-three wide receiver rotation, joining second year player Christian Kirk on the outside while the ageless Larry Fitzgerald continues to man the slot.
This should limit Isabella's upside in 2019, but with Fitzgerald playing on a one-year deal in 2019 and openly considering retirement in recent seasons, Isabella could be next in line to move inside. That's when his true fantasy potential could be unlocked.
numberFire's editor-in-chief, JJ Zachariason, initially projects Isabella for 76.7 targets, 50.3 receptions, 603.4 yards, and 2.8 touchdowns as a rookie.