New England Patriots

Sep 1, 2018; Chestnut Hill, MA: University of Massachusetts Minutemen wide receiver Andy Isabella runs the ball during the first half against the Boston College Eagles at Alumni Stadium. (Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)

Sep 1, 2018; Chestnut Hill, MA: University of Massachusetts Minutemen wide receiver Andy Isabella runs the ball during the first half against the Boston College Eagles at Alumni Stadium. (Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)

By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

Few wide receiver prospects boosted their draft stock at the NFL Scouting Combine more than UMass Amherst wideout Andy Isabella. The Mayfield, Oh. native has become a local favorite in recent years with his outstanding production for the Minutemen. Isabella also confirmed last week at the Combine that he’s on the Patriots’ radar and wouldn’t mind staying in New England to trade his maroon jersey for nautical blue.

“My girlfriend would definitely like that,” Isabella quipped, via Henry McKenna of Patriots Wire.

Isabella just had one of the best senior years in the country in his final season at UMass. He led NCAA Division I football with 1,698 receiving yards and 141.5 yards per game. In addition, Isabella finished second in the nation with 102 receptions and fifth with 13 receiving touchdowns. He earned Consensus First Team All-American honors and made nine other All-America squads. Most notably, he absolutely torched the Georgia Bulldogs with 15 catches for 219 yards and 2 touchdowns. Huge fantasy numbers.

He also played at the Senior Bowl, where he says he met with the Patriots (via Evan Lazar). So Isabella is clearly catching the eye of Bill Belichick as the head coach looks to potentially add youth and considerable talent to his slot receiver corps. But the 5-foot-9 Isabella wants to prove that he can be more than just a slot guy.

Mar 1, 2019; Indianapolis, IN: Massachusetts-Amherst wide receiver Andy Isabella speaks to media during the 2019 NFL Combine at the Indiana Convention Center. (Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports)

Mar 1, 2019; Indianapolis, IN: Massachusetts-Amherst wide receiver Andy Isabella speaks to media during the 2019 NFL Combine at the Indiana Convention Center. (Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports)

His Combine numbers should be a nice step toward establishing himself as not just one of the most talented inside receivers in the 2019 draft class, but one of the most talented receivers period. He blazed to an elite 40 time of 4.31 seconds, tied for first among all receivers with Ohio State’s Parris Campbell. The latter is likely to be one of the first receivers off the board when the NFL Draft kicks off on April 25.

As of this writing, Isabella and Campbell are second only to Auburn cornerback Jamel Dean (4.30) for the fastest at the entire Combine.

Isabella also finished sixth among receivers in the three-cone drill with a time of 6.95. The Patriots typically put a lot of stock in the three-cone, particularly for passing game players like receivers and cornerbacks. It’s the Combine’s best test of agility and short-area quickness. Those are two of Isabella’s stronger traits, which could make him a productive underneath receiver right away at the NFL level – especially if he has Tom Brady throwing him the ball.

His self-description from a recent interview with Titans website Music City Miracles certainly sounds like a Brady kind of receiver: “I consider myself to be a pretty smart player. I know how to get open because I know what the defense is doing at all times. I just know how to find little ways to get open.”

But a look at Isabella’s UMass highlights shows that he also has the ability to create explosive plays with his downfield speed and elusiveness after the catch. Notice how many plays he made while playing on the outside, too.

“You have to be tough to play outside, especially being small,” Isabella told reporters at the Combine. “I think I do a good job of using technique and my speed to get open.”

He’s recently even worked with a former Patriots receiver, a little-known wideout known as Randy Moss. The 2018 Hall of Fame inductee pushed Isabella hard in their meetings as he coached him with an NFL level of intensity, and Isabella found a lot of value in that.

“It has been good. He’s really tough on us about working, but I like that style of coaching,” Isabella said. “He would have us running like eight 40s and then five routes and then run eight more 40s full speed. The first day working with him, I sat on the field and spent 30 minutes dragging myself to the car. And then the next day we were out doing the same thing. Now we have a relationship where I can not be afraid to talk to him. He is teaching me a lot.”

Isabella’s relative lack of size may scare teams off and keep him from being one of the top receivers drafted. But his impressive Combine performance has probably pushed him up to a day two selection. The Patriots currently have five picks in rounds 2-3 to work with, including two seconds and three thirds.

If the Pats want to add another quick, smart, tough receiver to their group, they’d be hard-pressed to find a more intriguing prospect than Isabella.

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at matthew.dolloff@bbgi.com.