Rookie Scouting Report: Wide Receiver JJ Arcega-Whiteside

by Mike Tagliere | @MikeTagliereNFL | Featured Writer
Apr 11, 2019

With all the incredible athletes in this draft class, it’s easy to forget about JJ Arcega-Whiteside

JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Stanford

Height: 6’2″
Weight: 225 pounds
40-yard dash: 4.49 seconds (Pro Day)
Vertical Jump: 34.0 inches
Broad Jump: 118 inches
3-Cone Drill: N/A

After sitting out during the on-field drills and speed tests at the NFL Combine, Arcega-Whiteside posted a rock-solid 4.49-second 40-yard dash, though many will question times at Pro Days as they vary a lot more than those you see at the Combine. His other numbers weren’t off the charts, but no one really expected him to be a workout warrior. The fact that he’s close to that time definitely didn’t hurt his stock.

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Arcega-Whiteside ramped up his production every year while in school, topping out in 2018 when he posted 63 receptions for 1,059 yards and 14 touchdowns in 12 games. Six of his final seven games netted a minimum of 90 yards, so his consistency got better as he got more experience. During his junior and senior years, he combined for 23 touchdowns on 111 receptions, or one every 4.8 receptions. He’s a red zone monster who has been moving up draft boards. Does he blend in with the others from this draft class or does he stand out?

Size/Versatility: 4.0 out of 5 stars
He has plenty of size and enough to break press coverage relatively easy. He’s built big up-top which is why he’s able to bully defenders in the red zone. He’s not the size of Hakeem Butler or D.K. Metcalf and he can’t jump as high as them, but he’s got enough size for defenders to worry about it. He did move into the slot at times for Stanford, though it wasn’t too often. He’s an X-receiver who can play a possession role, though he should have the ability to play the slot at times and not limit an offenses creative flow.

Route Running/Ability to Separate: 3.0 out of 5 stars
He does have some suddenness to his routes, animates them as he should. You never see him going half-speed in his routes, as he’s always trying to separate. He simply doesn’t take plays off and is technically sound. He has some solid wiggle to his routes for someone who is 6-foot-2 and 225 pounds. He runs a bit more up-and-down than I’d like and it might be limiting his ability to separate. He uses a few steps to decelerate/release rather than planting his foot and cut like some technicians can do. It’s not a glaring issue because he doesn’t exactly roll to a stop, just not something that’s above average. He’s not the most talented route runner, but when you take his consistency, effort, and animations (that will sell defenders at times) into consideration, he gets a bump.

Speed: 2.0 out of 5 stars
I know what his Pro Day 40-yard dash said, but he’s not someone who is going to blow by a defender, though it helps to know he’s not slow. Lack of true speed allows cornerbacks to jump his routes on comebacks. He adjusts his speeds in routes and doesn’t play at a single speed, but his speed isn’t something that’s a plus in his game.

Hands: 4.0 out of 5 stars
His hands are what made him the most trusted option in the offense, as it was “throw it up towards Arcega-Whiteside and let him do the rest.” He knows when to corral the ball into his body but also knows when to snag the ball out of thin air with his hands. It’s not just catching the ball, either, but rather how strong his hands are to hold onto the ball through contact. There were a few drops on film, though you’ll see that with a lot of prospects. They seemed like uncontested focus drops, as he made some of the more difficult ones I’d seen from incoming prospects.

Awareness: 4.5 out of 5 stars
He’ll box you out like you’re playing basketball and win most of the time. He’s the type of guy where you know the ball is coming but might not be able to do anything about it as a defender. He knows where the sideline is and will essentially box out the defender to the inside, allowing him to snag the ball on the sideline with no hands in the vicinity. Saw him toe-tap a few catches on the sideline and in the end zone, so there’s no lack of awareness with his game.

After the Catch: 2.0 out of 5 stars
With the type of player he is in the red zone, you’d think he’s a monster after the catch, but that’s not really the case. He’s more of a guy who’ll catch the ball and the play ends there. He’s not an easy guy to bring down at 6-foot-2 and 225 pounds, but he’s not going to toss defenders aside, either. If asked to describe his after the catch ability in one word, it’d be “average.” He gets a slightly below average score because of his body size and the type of receiver he projects as.

Potential Landing Spot
When trying to find him a landing spot, you’re looking for a team who doesn’t have a clear-cut X-receiver on the roster, or one who may be losing one soon. Because of that, the Bills make tons of sense. They added John Brown and have Robert Foster to stretch the field, but Arcega-Whiteside would give Josh Allen a contested catch wide receiver in the red zone. The Seahawks could provide Russell Wilson with another receiving option, as the depth chart is painfully thin, especially if Doug Baldwin is ailing. The Jets have Robby Anderson and Jamison Crowder, so they’re another team who can use a receiver like Arcega-Whiteside, though he may come off the board before they have a chance in the third round (they don’t have a second-round pick).

NFL Comparison
He reminds me of a smaller version of Mike Evans. There are a few players who you could use as comparisons for Arcega-Whiteside, but Evans is someone who uses his body extremely well. He’s not a special route-runner, but he’s good enough. It’s important to note that Evans is three inches taller than him, but they have the same style of play. It’s extremely unlikely Arcega-Whiteside walks into an offense and gets 150-plus targets like Evans did, but he should be making an impact for some team, particularly in the red zone.

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Mike Tagliere is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Mike, check out his archive and follow him @MikeTagliereNFL.

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