Cardinals' Kliff Kingsbury: Andy Isabella, Hakeem Butler Impacted Draft Plans

Blake SchusterCorrespondent IIIMay 14, 2020

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Hakeem Butler (17) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Los Angeles Chargers, Thursday, Aug. 8, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

The Arizona Cardinals weren't blind to the glut of elite wideouts available in the 2020 NFL draft, but the front office just wanted to continue developing its receiver class from 2019 before cutting its losses and trying again. 

"We liked a lot of the receivers in the draft," head coach Kliff Kingsbury told the team website, "but we also like the guys we took last year."

Andy Isabella, Hakeem Butler and KeeSean Johnson remain key prospects in Arizona's offense, while DeAndre Hopkins, Christian Krik and Larry Fitzgerald are set to see the bulk of quarterback Kyler Murray's targets. 

As Fitzgerald's Hall of Fame career winds down, opportunities will quickly open up for the Cardinals to try out their second-stringers at the position. 

Isabella and Johnson combined for 376 yards and two touchdowns while Butler was forced to spend his rookie season on injured reserve with a broken finger. A second-round pick out of UMass in 2019, Isabella is ready for the Cardinals' faith in him to pay off. 

"Hopefully things go as planned," Isabella said. "We get a shot on the field, we start making plays and things start to take off."

Kingsbury believes that's entirely possible this year. It's what led the team to pass on the likes of CeeDee Lamb, Henry Ruggs III, Jerry Jeudy and others with the No. 8 overall pick in 2020. Instead, Arizona selected linebacker Isaiah Simmons. 

That should be a clear signal to the offense that all the pieces it needs to succeed have already been assembled. As it relates to the second-year receivers, the head coach is already expecting big things. 

"We like how they progressed," Kingsbury said. "It was tough getting on the field because we had some guys playing really well, but we're excited to see how they take that next step in Year 2."

The Cardinals produced a league-average offense last year, posting 341.7 yards per game with 22.6 points per contest. As they look to make a leap in a tough NFC West this year, Murray will need all the help he can get. 

Butler, Isabella and Johnson are ready to provide that. Their presence alone has already given their head coach a sense of security.