JJ Arcega-Whiteside – Wide Receiver
Class: Red-Shirt Junior
Weight: 225 lbs
JJ Arcega-Whiteside NFL Draft Profile
Top 3 Player Traits
Red Zone Ability
You only need to watch a handful of plays from his career to pick up on this particular ability. Arcega-Whiteside is a virtual highlight reel of receptions near the goal line or in the end zone. He uses his big frame to wall off corners and safeties in those situations, making himself a nightmare for corners or safeties who try to cover him in that tight area. In one-on-one touchdown-scoring situations, he rarely seems to lose.
Yards After The Catch
The Stanford product doesn’t have particularly blazing speed, but he more than makes up for it with his ability to shed initial contact and gain yardage after the reception. He can at times seem like a tight end with his propensity to take a shorter pass and make something happen with the ball in his hands. He won’t blow past everyone after the reception, but he routinely gets his offense additional yardage.
Big, Strong Hands
Arcega-Whiteside is a textbook receiver when it comes to catching the football. The ball rarely gets into his body. He uses extremely strong hands to catch every pass where it should be caught. Balls out in front, jump balls, low balls, he catches the ball away from his body, and defenders have almost no chance at making a play once his hands grab the ball.
3 Player Traits In Need Of Improvement
Beating CBs At Line Of Scrimmage
Whether it’s a question of not being “sudden” enough off the line of scrimmage, or if he just needs better coaching, he struggles at times with beating aggressive, press-type corners. And when he doesn’t beat them initially, they are able to mirror him down the field.
At the college level, he’s been able to make plays galore due to his size and strength, but NFL defenses are stacked with athletes who can make his life miserable if he doesn’t develop initial moves at the snap to free himself.
Deep Balls/Breakaway Speed
It might simply be a reflection of the Stanford offense or, more precisely, the routes that the Cardinal run, but Arcega-Whiteside doesn’t seem to have a lot of big plays in terms of down-the-field go or crossing-type patterns. His big plays mostly come either from using his size and strength to outmaneuver defenders or from catch and run plays.
When he does manage to get behind his man, he’s frequently caught from behind, showing a lack of second gear speed. Game-breaking, deep speed doesn’t seem to be there.
As is the case with his receiving, the Stanford wideout sometimes relies too much on his bigger frame to do the work for him when blocking. He’s been able to wall off defenders, especially smaller DBs, to this point in his career. But he needs to be much more aggressive with his hands and finish blocks.
NFL corners and safeties don’t give up on plays as easy or as early as their college counterparts do. This might again be something that can be improved with better coaching down the road.
NFL Team Fits
Andrew Luck took his team a long way with fairly limited weapons in the receiving corps. Having a bonafide, big-bodied receiver as the Robin to T.Y. Hilton‘s Batman could prove lethal to Colts opponents, especially with Whiteside’s red-zone acumen and the prospect of pairing that with Eric Ebron‘s.
Regardless of whether they stick with Josh Rosen or, as has been reported, they pull the trigger on Kyler Murray with the draft’s first pick, Arizona needs receivers for that QB. Add in the fact that this will probably be Larry Fitzgerald‘s swan song, a big receiver makes sense for the Cardinals.
NFL Player Comparison
Not that Arcega-Whiteside has all of the talent that Evans has shown in his career thus far, but he has certainly shown the ability to win in one-on-one matchups, especially near the goal line. He doesn’t have the speed of Evans, but also unlike the Bucs’ WR, he might not need to be a number one wideout in the NFL.