Rookie Rundown: WR JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Stanford

Rookie Rundown: WR JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Stanford

NFL Draft

Rookie Rundown: WR JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Stanford

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(Kelvin Kuo, USA TODAY Sports)

Stanford Cardinal wide receiver JJ Arcega-Whiteside enters the 2019 NFL Draft after his redshirt junior season as one of the nation’s most dominant presences in the red zone. His statistical production improved each year and was capped off by a 14-score effort in 2018.

Arcega-Whiteside was a team captain that season and led the Cardinal in all major receiving categories for the second straight year. He would go on to earn second-team All-Pac-12 honors.

Height: 6-foot-2
Weight: 225 pounds
40 time: TBD

Arcega-Whiteside did not participate in any drills at the scouting combine. Stanford’s pro day is April 4. Regardless of whatever he times, his game isn’t built around blazing speed.

Born in Spain, the son of two professional basketball players, Arcega-Whiteside’s athletic roots were evident as a decorated, three-sport prep star in football, basketball and track after moving to South Carolina as a child.

WR JJ Arcega-Whiteside — stats (2016-18)

Year
Rec
Yards
Avg.
TD
Long
Run att
Run yards
Avg.
TD
FUM
2016
24
379
15.8
5
61
0
0
0
0
0
2017
48
781
16.3
9
45
0
0
0
0
0
2018
63
1,059
16.8
14
80
0
0
0
0
0

Drastic jumps in productivity across the board and all over the field are encouraging. He translates well to the NFL for a number of offensive philosophies and shouldn’t have a hard time finding a suitor during the second day of the upcoming draft.

Pros

  • Extreme body control in the air and repositioning for the contested reception
  • Functional NFL-caliber speed
  • Plucks the ball away from his body — watching the tape shows a consistent “hands catcher” who extends to make tough catches
  • Plays much bigger than an already large frame suggests — looks 6-foot-5, 240 pounds against collegiate cornerbacks
  • High football IQ to digest an NFL playbook and adapt his game, take to coaching — dummies don’t get into Stanford. Played in a pro-style system
  • Displays enough short-area quickness to get separation on intermediate routes
  • Basketball background shows in box-out/jump-ball situations
  • Catch radius is incredible
  • Not afraid to run through defenders and bull for tough yardage, particularly when the stripe is in reach
  • NFL starter potential in short order — won’t have a lengthy learning curve at the next level

Cons

  • Isn’t going to run away from too many players in the NFL
  • Lacks explosive acceleration, which limits his situational involvement to a degree (being picky)
  • Getting off of the line of scrimmage against NFL press coverage may require additional techniques
  • Can take excessive steps coming in and out of breaks — more nitpicking, but every bit of efficiency matters in the pros

Fantasy football outlook

One NFC scout told NFL.com Arcega-Whiteside is often underestimated, and this could work to his advantage against unfamiliar NFL defenders. He’s an interesting blend of several players and uniquely himself in many ways, too. Looking at film, pieces of Anquan Boldin and Mike Evans immediately jump out. Arcega-Whiteside is crafty and plays with nuance, something not often found in players fresh from the NCAA ranks.

As mentioned, he’s likely a Day 2 pick, which puts him in the second or third round. It’s highly unlikely he goes earlier, and anything later than Round 3 is a considerable value. It would require a confluence of events to create a star rookie fantasy option here, but that doesn’t mean Arcega-Whiteside is incapable of authoring an eye-opener or two in 2019. Figuring out when to play him will be frustrating.

He makes a lot of sense for the Indianapolis Colts, Oakland Raiders and Pittsburgh Steelers, Washington Redskins, Buffalo Bills, Baltimore Ravens and Miami Dolphins, among others … there are plenty of WR-hungry teams. In the right situation, where he doesn’t have to be thrust into action and has a chance to hone his skills, a second-year breakout is quite realistic.

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