The speedy UMass product would fit in perfectly as the next slot machine in New England.
In a draft ripe with talented receivers, teams will have their choice of any type of route-runner to fit their offensive scheme. Even with the Patriots’ current wide receiver core, and following the selection of N’Keal Harry at No. 32, there are more pressing matters to attend to on the roster. With the plethora of picks, the Patriots are armed with for Day 2 of the NFL Draft, one of those should be spent to acquire University of Massachusetts receiver Andy Isabella.
Isabella is a Swiss Army knife on offense and special teams, and would perfectly fill in the role that Cordarrelle Patterson left behind. The former track star can line up on the outside and in the slot and has no problems when it comes to running any type of route. He can even be lined up in the backfield, and will most likely record a few carries for whatever team drafts him. With unlimited potential, Isabella could be an insane value if he goes in the second or third round.
While Isabella is a fierce competitor, he will be seriously hindered by his size. Standing 5-foot-10 and weighing 190 pounds, Isabella will need to adjust smoothly to dealing with professional athletes compared to collegiate players. Still, the UMass product has blazing speed that can be used to evade any defender, as his track experience helped him to run a 4.31 40-yard dash. With a short wingspan equating to a small catch radius, Isabella will need to rely on separation for his quarterback to be comfortable throwing him the ball.
One of his biggest challenges will be neutralizing press coverage, but Isabella has the quick feet and release to get it done. The positive about this problem is that if the speedy receiver can perfect his release, he could be a serious problem for physical cornerbacks who rely on pressure to stall a receiver’s route. Isabella would mesh in quite well with the Patriots’ offensive idea, as he is at his best running option routes that give him the best chance of leaving a defensive back multiple steps behind him.
It might not make sense to give it a go with another slot receiver, but Isabella has the credentials to make his impact as more than a pass-catcher. Slippery and able to accelerate at a moment’s notice, Isabella could be a monster in the return game. As reliable and impressive as Edelman has been, he is on the wrong side of 30 and has been hobbled by injuries. Isabella would be a significant improvement as a punt returner over Edelman, and it never hurts to have insurance for Tom Brady’s go-to target.
With Chris Hogan’s departure to Carolina, and Josh Gordon’s unknown status entering the season, Philip Dorsett is the top target to line up outside the numbers. It should be noted that Gordon signed his RFA tender, but that he is still ineligible to play. Given that Dorsett was brought back on a one year, prove-it deal, it’s easy to picture this being his last season with New England. Unlike many receivers in this year’s talented pool, Isabella would be able to instantly fill in any role in the receiving department.
All signs point to the mastermind of Bill Belichick using one of his many second- or third-round picks on a talented receiver. For what it’s worth, it wouldn’t be a tough transition for the track star, who would relocate from Boston to Foxboro.