J.J. Arcega-Whiteside: Philadelphia Eagles Rookie Review

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The Philadelphia Eagles season is over, which means it’s time to take a look back and see where the young players stand moving forward. Wide receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside was one of the most disappointing rookies of 2019, but can he turn it around in 2020?

Philadelphia Eagles Rookie Review: J.J. Arcega-Whiteside

2019 In Review

Arcega-Whiteside started the season near the bottom of what was supposed to be a talented depth chart. Alshon Jeffery was the star, DeSean Jackson was the big-play threat, and Nelson Agholor was the chain-moving specialist. In theory, Arcega-Whiteside could take his sweet time to develop behind this trio.

Unfortunately, injuries completely decimated Philadelphia’s skill position players. Jackson, Jeffery, and Agholor all suffered serious injuries, which meant that Arcega-Whiteside had a chance to make an immediate impact. It didn’t go so well, as he finished the season with just 10 receptions for 169 yards and one touchdown. Between crucial drops and an inability to get open, Arcega-Whiteside managed to fall down a nonexistent depth chart as the season progressed.

There’s a case to be made that Philadelphia had the worst group of receivers in the league entering the postseason. Despite this, Arcega-Whiteside still saw his playing time decrease over the final two weeks of the season. The rookie didn’t see a single target in Week 17 or in the Wild Card Round and only played a combined 29 offensive snaps. It’s not uncommon for a receiver to struggle during their first year in the NFL, but it’s never a good thing to fall behind Greg Ward and Deontay Burnett on the depth chart.

2020 Preview

Arcega-Whiteside is going to have to earn everything in 2020. Despite his draft pedigree, the Stanford product might not make the team if he doesn’t demonstrate tremendous growth over the offseason. Moving on from a second-round pick after one season is uncommon, but it’s not unheard of. Last year, Bill Belichick traded 2018 second-round pick Duke Dawson to the Denver Broncos for essentially nothing before he ever played a regular season snap.

Nelson Agholor is a free agent and probably won’t be back in 2020. Assuming he hits the open market, that means there will be a battle for the third wide receiver position. Considering the lack of receiver depth, Arcega-Whiteside is very much in play to win this battle if he can make a dramatic second-year leap.

Reason to Believe in J.J. Arcega-Whiteside

The good news is that there is reason to believe he can turn it around. The Stanford product was not good in 2019, but he does have the required talent. Arcega-Whiteside was a second-round pick, and the vast majority of the draft community believed he was a solid selection at 57th overall. The NFL Draft is a total crapshoot, and second-round picks don’t always pan out. However, he does have the raw tools to succeed, he just needs to translate those skills to the football field.

While he was largely a train wreck in the regular season, Arcega-Whiteside actually flashed some of his ability in the preseason. During the third exhibition contest, the rookie recorded eight receptions for 104 yards and a touchdown. Teams usually use their first-team defense through the first three quarters of the preseason, so Arcega-Whiteside wasn’t doing this against scrubs.

It’s admittedly a long shot after such a disappointing rookie season, but there is hope Arcega-Whiteside can turn it around. While he might not ever be better than D.K. Metcalf, he still has time to develop into a solid receiver.

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