(percentile rank among all WRs at the Combine since 1999, courtesy of mockdraftable.com):
40-yard dash: 4.31 seconds (96th)
Vertical: 36.5” (64th)
Broad: 121” (56th)
3-cone: 6.95 seconds (47th)
20-yard shuttle: 4.15 (68th)
Isabella was recruited out of high school as an “athlete” with no specific position. UMass listed him as a RB for his 2015 freshman campaign. He caught 2 balls, carried 3 times for 28 yards and averaged 18.5 yards on 17 kick returns.
Isabella moved to WR in 2016 and immediately started racking up numbers. He finished 2nd on the team in catches, receiving yards and TDs that year. And he continued to contribute on the ground with 100 yards on 12 carries.
2017 brought new career highs across the board, as Isabella emerged as UMass’ top option in the passing game. He accounted for 23.9% of the team’s catches, 28.6% of the yards and 38.5% of the TDs. He added another 135 yards and 1 score on 14 rushes. Isabella was named a semifinalist for the Biletnikoff Award, given to college football’s best WR.
He was 1 of the country’s most productive receivers this past year. Isabella ranked 2nd in catches, 1st in yards and 6th in TDs. And his market-share numbers were massive: 38.8% of the catches, 47.5% of the yards and 48.1% of the TDs. Those marks rank 2nd, 1st and 4th among the 48 WRs invited to this year’s Combine.
Isabella also shined in the efficiency metrics. He averaged a big 11.6 yards per target — 63.4% more than the rest of UMass’ pass catchers. And, according to Pro Football Focus, he led all draft-eligible WRs with 4.15 yards per route run.
Isabella feasted on the weaker competition he faced, including a 303-yard, 2-TD explosion against Liberty. But he also torched Georgia for a 15-219-2 line in his final college outing.
Isabella was named a Biletnikoff Award finalist and a First-Team All-American.
Courtesy of @WhatsOnDraftNFL
Games watched - Mississippi State (2017), Boston College, South Florida, Georgia
Isabella isn’t some gritty, short-range slot receiver. He lined up all over the formation for UMass. And his game is built on speed.
When given a free release, Isabella can run by most DBs with his 4.3 wheels. He also shows an extra gear to go get that deep ball that might be thrown a yard or 2 too far.
He also plays with good speed through his routes. So when he gets a step on a defender, he doesn’t give up that separation.
You don’t catch 102 balls in a season without sticky hands. Isabella dropped just 5.6% of his catchable targets last season, according to Pro Football Focus.
Isabella has experience running jet sweeps and other types of WR runs, which will appeal to NFL teams and give fantasy owners some added value.
The holes in Isabella’s game? He’s not a tackle-breaker after the catch and sometimes struggles breaking free from physical press coverage.
It's challenging to project any college WR to the NFL. It’s more challenging when that guy faced lower-level competition like Isabella.
But he checks every box: huge raw production and market shares, nice tape and strong measurables. It was especially important for the UMass product to test as an NFL-caliber athlete at the Combine. He did that and more by registering an 82nd percentile SPARQ score.
Size stands as his biggest concern. Besides the 5’9, 188-pound frame, he’s in the 5th percentile or lower in hand size, arm length and wingspan.
The combination of diminutive size but explosive athleticism spits out John Brown and Tyler Lockett as 2 of Isabella’s top comparables over at mockdraftable.com. Their play styles are similar, too, as guys who do their best work downfield.
Brown and Lockett both have top-24 fantasy campaigns on their resumes. Isabella looks capable of that type of production in the right spot. We’ll see just how early he comes off the board in next month’s draft.