Mention the name Andy Isabella to most NFL fans, and the first response is “Who?” His name remains in relative anonymity for a reason. The diminutive second-year receiver plays for the Arizona Cardinals behind two of the best in the game in Larry Fitzgerald and DeAndre Hopkins. Three weeks into the 2020 NFL season, Isabella is proving he just might be the best third wheel in the league.
Andy Isabella becomes top college receiver
Andy Isabella is fast. How fast? In high school, he won the Ohio state title in the 100-yard dash edging out Cleveland Browns 2018 first-round and No. 4 overall pick Denzel Ward. Despite that blazing speed, the offers didn’t come flooding in for the 5-foot-9-inch Isabella. He accepted a scholarship offer to play football for the University of Massachusetts.
At UMass, Isabella saw limited action his freshman year, before making a big splash in 2016. That season, he hauled in 62 catches for 801 yards and seven touchdowns. He followed that year up with an even better performance his junior season catching 65 passes for 1,020 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Andy Isabella saved his best for last during his senior season. In 2018, he grabbed 102 receptions for an impressive 1,698 yards and 13 touchdowns. Most impressively, he led the nation with 141.5 receiving yards per contest. Along with Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy, Isabella was named an All-American receiver. He was also a Fred Biletnikoff Award finalist.
Andy Isabella drafted by Arizona Cardinals
After Pro Football Focus rated Andy Isabella the highest wide receiver in college football and he posted the third-fastest 40-yard time at the combine at 4.31, the Arizona Cardinals drafted him in the second round of the 2019 NFL draft.
During his first season in the desert, Isabella was used sparingly by new Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury. He played in 15 games, which included one start.
Fellow rookie, quarterback Kyler Murray, targeted Andy Isabella just 13 times his entire rookie season. Despite the limited opportunities, Isabella made the most of them, hauling in nine receptions for 189 yards, an impressive 21 yards per reception. He caught one touchdown toss.
Isabella’s expanding role in 2020
With the Arizona Cardinals adding receiver DeAndre Hopkins in the offseason, it stood to reason Isabella’s already minimal production in 2019 could potentially diminish even more in 2020. In fact, just the opposite has happened.
With opposing defenses placing a priority on covering Hopkins and all-everything receiver Larry Fitzgerald, Isabella has had more opportunities early in the 2020 season, and he’s made them pay off. After no targets in Week 1, Murray connected with the diminutive receiver a couple of times in Week 2 for 67 yards, a healthy 33.5 yards per catch average.
In Week 3, Isabella had the best game of his young NFL career catching all four passes Murray delivered to him, including a pair of touchdowns. That game showed the rapport Murray is developing with his second-year receiver, and how he’s becoming a viable third option behind the two star receivers.
Andy Isabella is still a relative unknown in the desert playing for the Arizona Cardinals. But don’t be surprised if by the end of the 2020 NFL season his name is regularly mentioned in Arizona highlights because he’s proven since his days in college, despite his size, his speed and desire are not to be taken lightly. Just ask Denzel Ward.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference.