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Andy Isabella and the Kick Return Competition



Andy Isabella, Buffalo Bills, Kick Returner

On Thursday, the Buffalo Bills brought in two wide receivers, Andy Isabella and N’Keal Harry, for workouts. Both members of the 2019 NFL Draft Class, selected 62nd and 32nd respectively, follow different archetypes. Harry, touted as “The Ideal #1 receiver out of college”, hasn’t had the career he expected. Isabella, a speedy gadget receiver, hasn’t been better.

One of them left alone, and the other stayed on a one-year contract. What was the deciding difference between the two men? Simple; Andy Isabella is a kick returner. It’s the lone area on the roster that we seem to be targeting through free agency.

Our Kick Returner Competition

Since Nyheim Hines’ unfortunate offseason injury, the Buffalo Bills have been on the lookout for his replacement at kick returner. It’s something they have plenty of competition for. They’ve brought in RB Darrynton Evans to address it, as well as giving reps to notable rostered returner Deonte Harty. You can read more about these players and other return competitors here.

Those guys are expected to compete for the role, but Andy Isabella entering the mix muddies the pool. It seems clear that he isn’t definitively better than our current top option. However, if they deem Deonte Harty too valuable to expend on kickoffs, Isabella is a prime candidate.

Is Andy Isabella The Answer?

Andy Isabella WR kick return punt Buffalo Bills Baltimore Ravens
AP Photo/Julio Cortez

From a kick return standpoint, Isabella is a fair option. He’s averaged an acceptable 20.8 yards returning as a pro, though it’s a small sample size. Much like a lot of players with limited opportunity on the field as a pro, much of his promise stems from his college performance. His speed and shiftiness are enticing to the role of returner, but they’re not substantially better than what we have on the roster.

With the depth in the receiving room, Isabella may find himself a practice squad player when the season starts, with the chance for a call-up if we don’t have the kick return solution already active on gameday. He can’t cut it in this roster as a receiver, so special teams is his only hope. It’s unlikely he makes the grade.

Featured Image: Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports

One of the owners The Sports Wave, and a Journalist at Buffalo Fanatics, I'm an English immigrant living in Canada. A huge Buffalo Bills fan, I also love my Boston Celtics, Toronto Blue Jays, and Queens Park Rangers.

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