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NFL Draft Prospect Profile: JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Stanford University

NFL Draft Prospect Profile: JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Stanford University
Davis Mattek February 20, 2019 3:37PM EST

JJ Arcega-Whiteside Prospect Profile

Wide receivers who accumulate a majority of their production in their final season of college are generally to be questioned. The evaluation of wide receiver prospects is full of riddles and Arcega-Whiteside has several of them. Through three college seasons, JJ Arcega-Whiteside had 72 receptions, including a true freshmen season where he didn’t play. He played basketball in college, which you might laugh at, but I do generally believe that multi-sport experience is helpful for pass catchers in the NFL. The evidence is mostly anecdotal but it is mostly encouraging. The inside story of Arcega-Whiteside opting to go to Stanford has to be an interesting story as it is not really known as a WR factory.

Whiteside’s sophomore season looks disappointing from a raw metrics perspective but his 379 yards and 5 touchdowns were good enough to be 26% of Stanford’s passing offense in a year where Christian McCaffrey and Bryce Love had 364 rushing attempts. The next season, his junior year, Arcega-Whiteside became a capital-P Prospect where he accrued 35% of Stanford’s passing offense with 48 receptions, 781 yards, and 9 touchdowns.

The Stanford wide receiver’s college career was an advanced statistical marvel, even if the traditional numbers aren’t truly eye-popping. Stanford threw for 29 touchdown passes in 2018; Arcega-Whiteside caught 14 of them! In fact, Whiteside accounted for 31% of Stanford’s total touchdowns. 14.9% of his total targets in his final season turned into touchdowns and per Hayden Winks on Rotoworld, “the rest of the Stanford pass catchers were scoring at a 4.5% clip”. That sort of stand out dominance relative to his teammates is the sort of thing that we really look for in prospects. In a very real way, it is similar to the sort of production that small-school wide receivers who gain absurd market shares project.

The Big 12 has sort of distorted the sort of numbers that we expect wide receivers and even quarterbacks to produce but Arcega-Whiteside’s 1,059 yards was actually third in the PAC-12 and was one of only four 1,000 yard receivers in the PAC-12.

While there is only limited value in watching “highlight” tapes, I feel that it is useful to include this Stanford Athletics highlight tape just to give an idea of what it is that JJ Arcega-Whiteside offers on the field to the RotoX readers. The panel at the NFL Draft Network is generally positive about his game. Amongst the scouting quotes, they praise his ball-tracking ability and his ball skills.

For my part, I see a very functional athlete who is ready to play a role in the NFL pretty much right away. While he doesn’t have tremendous long speed or run after the catch ability, he is ready to be an X wide receiver right now. For his long-term dynasty stock, it will be important for him to get more immediate playing time as he is coming into the NFL at age 22. The older a wide receiver prospect is, the lower their future chances of fantasy football/NFL stardom.

For this draft class, Arcega-Whiteside provides a pretty interesting arbitrage opportunity for NFL teams that are looking for a starting X wide receiver and don’t want want to spend what it would cost to select D.K Metcalf or perhaps N’Keal Harry. Depending on whose mock draft you read, Arcega-Whiteside could be anywhere from a first to third round draft pick. The Baltimore Ravens are one team that could use the excellent run blocking and contested catch ability of Arcega-Whiteside. The Indianapolis Colts are another team that could use his very specific skill set to improve their offense.

Photo Courtesy of Scott U 

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