The Green Bay Packers have often come up empty in far too many 3rd & short situations recently. How do Matt Lafleur and Co. solve that problem in 2019? Ask the front office to draft a quick, shift route running slot receiver. Perhaps one that has been continually mocked to the Pack in and around the 4th round of the upcoming draft? This is going to be fun one for all of Packers Nation, everybody’s favourite Minuteman, number five, Andy Isabella.
Ever shake your head in bewilderment when watching our receivers run twenty yard route routes on 3rd & 2? Me too. The long list of injuries to Randall Cobb, and release of Jordy Nelson, necessitated Mike McCarthy to call far too many low percentage routes on third down. Third and manageable simply needs to be converted at a far better rate then the Packers have been able to in the past few years. Failing to convert a third and two from your own thirty yard line with Aaron Rodgers as your quarterback is borderline blasphemous, and should almost be counted as a turnover. Quite frankly, a few more third down conversions can be the difference between an 11-5 and a 7-9 season. McCarthy’s offense’ failure to seize opportunities is a major reason we sit here today with a new head coach. Bottom line, Matt Lafleur desperately needs someone to replace Cobb and win in the slot. With ten choices in the 2019 Draft, the Packers have more than enough ammo to do just that!
The Green Bay Packers offense is crying out for a crafty, specialized receiver who can create space for himself in the slot. Having just watched the 5’11 Julian Edelman win Super Bowl MVP, the value of slot receivers has never been higher. As offenses find new and creative ways to space the field and stretch defenses like never before, the value of these receivers will continue to skyrocket. Although it can be advantageous have a number one target as an athletic marvel and true mismatch to any defender he faces (ie. Julio Jones), slot receivers who are able to beat their man and “win” in the clutch are more sought after than ever. Edelman has consistently made clutch plays in the biggest games for his team, and Isabella has all the ability in the world to do the same for the Green Bay Packers.
Isabella consistently utilizes different speeds and hesitation in his routes in order to create separation. As Michael Irvin once said “it’s not about beating your man off the snap, it’s about getting open at that last second, just as the ball comes, adjusting and beating him to it.” This is a perfect anecdote on what makes the 5’10, 190 pound receiver from Mayfield, Ohio great. He not only has the speed and quick twitch ability to get open, but also the high football IQ to know when and where to sit down on his routes. Isabella really makes the most of selling each and every movement on the route tree to defenders with a plethora of hand and head fakes. Some scouts did use this as a knock on the dimunitive receiver at the Senior Bowl, however wasted steps can easily be cleaned up by a good receivers’ coach in the league. He regularly sinks his hips and explodes in and out of cuts, displaying an advanced route running ability that should only be perfected at the next level. The receiver from the University of Massachusetts will be an absolute monster on option routes in the NFL.
While many slot receivers are often categorized as quicker than fast, Isabella is a former Division 1 state high school 100 meter champion. He decimated the competition in Ohio, claiming high profile victims like last years’ number four overall pick Denzel Ward along the way. Long speed will not be a problem for the senior, as he regularly made top recruits look silly, galloping through secondaries like a cheetah hunting for blood. He may even be chasing history in Indianapolis, as Isabella himself predicted he would run a 4.26 40-yard dash. Recent rumours linking him to workouts with long time Packers’ foe, Hall of Famer Randy Moss, should only fuel the fire on Andy Isabella’s hype train. Look for the receiver to show up at the Scouting Combine later this month ready to make “straight cash, homey.”
Imagine Isabella lining up in the slot with Jimmy Graham outside, TJ Hockenson in-line and Davante Adams with Marquez Valdes-Scantling opposite. Absolute Packer euphoria, so much so it almost brings back memories of 2011. In order to create a more versatile offense, players who can create yards after catch are a must. The former high school 100 meter champion has an innate ability to break tackles in the open field, and always seems to make the first man miss. He often had to fabricate yards and first downs in Massachusetts offense, and was successful despite the lack of talent around him. In his final collegiate contest, the shifty number five dominated the Georgia Bulldog secondary to the tune of 15 receptions for 219 yards and 2 touchdowns. Potential first round pick, and personal favourite, DeAndre Baker stood no chance against Andy Isabella’s onslaught of speed and route running savvy. Here number five torches the many high ranking recruits of the the Georgia secondary:
The Biletnikoff Award runner-up possesses all of the necessary polish and skills to eventually become a difference maker at the next level. Ted Thompson’s philosophy in drafting wide receivers was often to pick out ultra-productive, nuanced route runners who showed the ability to generate yards after catch. While it remains to be seen if Brian Gutekunst follows the same model, Packers fans can be sure to see at least one wide receiver drafted by the team in 2019. Nevertheless, Isabella checks all these boxes and more, making him a premium target for Green Bay as early as the third round. All the Packers need to do is ensure Gutekunst gets a hold of this glass slipper before the rest of the league finds out.Nick is a lifelong Packers fan. 4th and 26 was on his 13th birthday, unlucky. Follow him @CANDRAFTGEEK647 on Twitter for all your Packers draft needs and questions.