Andy Isabella, Wide Receiver, University of Massachusetts:
Isabella is a name that you should be very familiar with at this point. Many have pointed to him as a possible target to replace Golden Tate as the Lions’ new slot receiver. And after a strong senior season and an impressive Senior Bowl performance, his name is only getting more buzz as the draft process drags on.
While he absolutely deserves every bit of attention he is getting, there are still some questions he needs to answer before I would be completely comfortable spending a third round pick on him. While it’s not really a question as to whether or not he can get separation downfield, I’m still interested to see his 40 time in the 40 yard dash.
The biggest question I have about him is how he performs during the “gauntlet” drill. This drill is when the receiver runs from one side of the field to the other catching footballs thrown to him from different positions on the field.
NFLregionalcombines.com can probably explain it better than I can however, so here is their description of the drill:
"“1. Player begins drill with two (2) initial throws and catches prior to starting the movement portion of the drill. 2. After player catches the two initial throws, player will run across the field towards the opposite sideline, catching balls from throwers, alternating between each side. 3. Player will repeat the drill going in the opposite direction.”"
This drill will be especially important for Isabella because he will often do what is known as “body-catching” the football. He will let the football travel all the way to his chest before securing the football. In the NFL this is not ideal for receivers because they need to be able to make contested catches and secure the football with their hands, not their body.
If he performs well in the “gauntlet” and in other receiving drills with minimal drops and body catches then I will be all aboard the Isabella train and will lobby for him to be the Lions third round selection. However, if the issue continues to plague him, then the Lions should not entertain drafting him until the fourth round at the earliest.