AMHERST — Four years ago, the thought of Andy Isabella being an NFL draft pick was a fever dream.
He was a 5-foot-9, 187-pound freshman who was a late addition to UMass’ 2015 recruiting class because of his track speed, and held just one other Division I football offer. He played running back at Mayfield High School – which is located 20 miles east of Cleveland – and was listed as such for most of his first year in Amherst while earning three rushing attempts and catching two passes. Even as he showed significant improvement over the next two years, Isabella entered the 2018 season as an intriguing pro prospect but not a guaranteed draft pick.
Everything came together for Isabella in 2018 as he shredded the record book and skyrocketed up draft boards. He led the country with a UMass-record 1,698 yards receiving and broke the school’s career mark with 3,526 yards. It all culminated in his crowning performance at Georgia – UMass’ final game of the season – when he torched the fifth-ranked Bulldogs for 219 yards on 15 catches.
“He’s humble, he keeps his mouth shut and he just steps out on the field, has fun and performs well,” linebacker Bryton Barr said after UMass’ pro day in March. “He was a walk-on and he just put in the work each and every day, a bunch of people telling him no and he’s worked even harder and made a huge name for himself. He’ll be on a team soon and I’m excited to see what God has planned for him.”
The game against Georgia was the beginning of a whirlwind journey for Isabella that thrust him into the national spotlight. He was a consensus All-American, a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award, was invited to play in the Senior Bowl in January and work out at the NFL Scouting Combine in February. He went down to Mobile, Alabama, and was the MVP for the North team at the Senior Bowl then proceeded to run a 4.31-second 40-yard dash at the combine to tie for the fastest of the 2019 event.
Byron Murphy was the crown jewel of Washington’s 2016 recruiting class coming out of Saguaro High School in Arizona. At the time he was the 3rd highest rated recruit ever under Coach Petersen at UW per the 247 Sports Composite finishing only behind Budda Baker and Jake Browning. It wasn’t hard to see why. Murphy finished his senior season with 88 catches for 1,721 yards and 21 touchdowns on offense and added in 52 tackles and 7 interceptions on defense. He could’ve been an elite prospect on either side of the ball but ultimately chose to play corner in college.
Murphy redshirted his first year with Kevin King and Sidney Jones entrenched at the outside corner spots and it quickly became apparent that this was a luxury. Murphy won the Defensive Scout Team MVP award and everyone knew that had the team not had a pair of 2nd round draft picks waiting outside that Murphy easily could’ve started as a true freshman.
The hype was palpable entering his RS Fr season and quickly rose to a fever pitch after Murphy had a pair of interceptions in his first college game at Rutgers. Unfortunately, after just 3 games Murphy sustained a leg injury in practice and missed 7 contests in the middle of the year. He returned for the final 3 games and managed an interception in the Fiesta Bowl against Penn State. His final freshman stats were 16 tackles, 1 sack, 3 Interceptions, and 10 Passes Defensed in 6 games.
Going into his RS So season Murphy was an unquestioned starter and quickly demonstrated he was among the best corners in the country. Murphy played in all 14 games and finished with 58 tackles, 4 Interceptions, 17 Passes Defensed, and 1 Forced Fumble. His dominance was noticed by just about everyone as he was named either a 1st team or 2nd team All-American by just about every media outlet. Despite playing in just 21 career college games Murphy declared for the NFL Draft as soon as eligible.
Murphy presents an interesting contrast for NFL scouts. The dominance of Murphy’s tape is undeniable. He makes plays that so few other players are physically capable of making. However, Murphy doesn’t have the raw athleticism that makes scouts drool.
If you’re reading this article, then you already know that the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals drafted Kyler Murray with the first-overall pick. And you also know that, after drafting Josh Rosen last year, this is the second year in a row that they’ve drafted a quarterback in the first round.
Only a few times in the past 50 years has an NFL team has taken a quarterback in the first round in back-to-back drafts. And now, according to Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com, the Cardinals have traded away Josh Rosen.
One reason why Murray and Rosen could not have coexisted is that NFL players and coaches have strong Power drives. Through research with thousands of employees and leaders, we’ve discovered that there are five major motivations that drive people’s actions at work; Power, Achievement, Affiliation, Security and Adventure. There’s an online test where you can assess your own drivers, called “What Motivates You?”
People who are driven by a need for power aren’t necessarily looking for a Napoleonic “I want to command the world” kind of dominance, but they do love to be in charge and will even choose a high-ranking title over money. They also want to direct others and to hold the authority to make decisions that impact others. The need for power often includes a desire to be revered and followed.
Power-driven individuals thrive when allowed to stand out and to be great. They embrace competition, want a clear path to advancement, and they dislike fuzzy organizational structures that lack clear decision control and lines of authority. Shared or team-based decision making is a turn-off for the power-driven individual. They don’t necessarily need to make every decision, if they know who, exactly, is in charge and making all the big decisions.