NAME: J.J. Arcega-Whiteside
JERSEY: No. 19
RECRUITMENT RATING: 3-star
WT: 225 lbs
Route Running – Arcega-Whiteside has conscious technique as a route runner, and while he has some physical limitations, he’s refined nearly all other aspects in this area. His releases against press coverage are dominant, as he gets out of his stance in an immediately squared position. With fast feet in short bursts, he moves laterally well to clear his hips of the defensive back. Additionally, his hand usage consistently keeps his pads clean. Considering his size, the combination of fast feet, lateral agility and hand usage allows him to get into his vertical routes. He senses space well on his curl routes, finding windows in-between zone drops. While Arcega-Whiteside has shiftiness in his hips, his horizontal breaks are a bit limited. He either needs an extra step to get defined or slows down to an almost complete stop. Additionally, he could use his hands more at the top of the route to clear his pads and allow for more acceleration out of breaks.
Athleticism/ Speed – Arcega-Whiteside will likely test as just an average athlete for the position. His top-end speed will be a question mark, as he is missing that top gear. However, his acceleration is good for his size. On top of that, he has proper shiftiness that allows him to move laterally. With broad shoulders and length, his strength profile projects well for the NFL.
Hands / Ball Skills – Arcega-Whiteside’s ball skills are some of the best in the class. He’s constantly extending away from his body, plucking the ball out of the air. He can reach away from body above the rim or right along the turf. He is consciously reaching back to the catch point, even in full sprint to get the ball out of the air as soon as possible. Drops can arise when he’s coming downhill towards the ball, but they are seemingly due to a concentration issue more than a physical limitation.
Body Control – His body control is elite in every way. Arcega-Whiteside has an innate ability to stick his foot in the ground and rise back towards the catch point. He’s consistently positioning his body where he can get full extension towards the ball. He’s a box-out specialist, as he always is in the right spot to shield the catch point from defensive backs. Does a great job extending at the last moment and using his length to snatch the ball. Will work through contact as well as any receiver in the class. On top of that, his horizontal body control is outstanding, as he can make catches right along the turf. His awareness of the boundary is outstanding, as he will rise and maintain position in the air that allows him to get his feet down in-bounds.
Ball Carrier – Arcega-Whiteside has a feel for space and players, as he can process a defense and avoid defenders. He has the ability to drop his pads and go forward through potential tacklers, bringing some pop. Decent explosiveness when getting vertical, but not the most elusive or slippery athlete. I would label his ability as a ball carrier as more “safe” than “dynamic.”
Stalk Blocking – Arcega-Whiteside is one of the better stalk blockers in the NFL Draft class. He will explode off the line of scrimmage, approach, collapse space and engage. The next step for him will be to continue running his feet upon engaging, as he can be content with using his length to stalemate defensive backs. He will work to cut-off safeties across the field, forcing cornerbacks to make tackles in space.
Versatility – Arcega-Whiteside took reps in the slot, but the majority of his plays came along the boundary. On top of that, his projection will come on the outside in the NFL. I like his ability in the intermediate and deep portions of the field, as well as his blocking acumen. He likely won’t offer much in terms of special teams at the next level.
BEST TRAIT – Contested Catch
WORST TRAIT – Speed
RED FLAGS – N/A
Arcega-Whiteside has created consistent passing windows in his college career with his refined technique and body positioning. Combined with his rebounding-like ability in contested catch situations, he is a jump-ball specialist. However, his game isn’t just limited to this trait. He offers enough in other areas to make me think his game will translate well to the next level. The 40-yard dash will likely show him limitations with top-end speed, but he will likely still be considered on Day 2 of the NFL Draft.
Routes – Technically refined, almost mechanical route runner. Uncovers well in the short and intermediate areas of the field with nuanced releases, timing and active hands in the contact window. Does well to attack leverage and adjust on the fly. Requires too much throttle down and is guilty of extra steps on horizontal breaks. Lacks burst at the top of routes and is an overall modest separator.
Hands – Routinely extends his arms for the football, squeezes it tightly away from his frame and hangs on through contact. Does well to scoop out low throws. Not immune to an occasional concentration drop when uncontested.
Ball Skills – Routinely comes down with contested catches through contact. Aggressively attacks the football in the air and never waits for it. Exceptional at high pointing the football. Makes terrific adjustments to off-target throws and is capable of extending in any direction for the football. Naturally tracks the football and does well to position his frame to win at the catch point.
YAC Ability – Illustrates physicality and competitive toughness after the catch and will get the available yards. Lacks elusive traits and creativity with the ball in his hands for YAC to be a prominent component of his game.
Release – Has a variety of foot work and hand technique to clear jams and get into his stem. Sets up and takes good angles to work for a clean release but the process can be elongated. Not overly explosive off the line and has some issues reducing his surface area. Hand technique and lateral agility are the keys to his release.
Play Speed – Is not a burner but his ball tracking skills and ability to position his frame enable him to win vertically. Not a threat to simply run by coverage. Wish he had more burst at the top of this routes. Does well to alter the pace in his routes to set up his route breaks and force false steps.
Blocking – Assertively attacks opponents and makes excellent initial contact. Needs to improve his ability to sustain blocks by fitting his hands, staying square and keeping his feet involved. Keeps working down the field the hit blocks as plays elongate.
Play Strength – Physical route runner that has the strength to win in the contact window and when working to position his frame. Has good contact balance and body control as a runner, blocker and at the catch point. Grip strength in his hands is outstanding.
Versatility – Has experience playing from the slot and outside in college and is likely to play both in the NFL. Unlikely to be a dynamic deep threat in the NFL but should be highly productive in the short and intermediate areas of the field. Gets his work done as a blocker.
BEST TRAIT – Ball Skills, Body Control
WORST TRAIT – Speed
RED FLAGS – None
Improving every year at Stanford and culminating with a dominant junior season, Arcega-Whiteside projects favorably to a possession style role in the NFL. A contested catch monster, the game slows down when the ball is arriving and Arcega-Whiteside takes over with his alpha mentality and elite ball skills. While be may lack ideal burst and speed, Arcega-Whiteside is a nuanced route runner that makes excellent adjustments on the fly to find space. He should be a trusty pass catcher in the NFL hat keeps the chains moving and is a nightmare for defenses in the redzone.
Hands – Has impossibly strong mitts away from his frame. Ability to make hands-catches — and secure the ball through contact/contortions — marries perfectly with physical traits and play-style to complete portfolio of elite red zone receiver. Will stick high velocity balls out of mid-air from all angles and regularly keeps ball away from his frame when contact arrives, hearkening back to his basketball years. Guilty of some drops as a result of flashing late hands to deceive defenders.
Route Running – Mostly worked a vertical third for the Stanford attack; was rarely asked to cross the formation on any routes other than a shallow crosser. Illustrates a fundamental awareness of attacking leverage, generating a stack, and maintaining downfield leverage on deep balls. Gets his head around with intention. Lacks the elite physical profile to be a true separator, but regularly creates throwing windows and can win through contact/adjust to inaccurate balls. Has clean and decisive footwork at break point to snap into his routes, though is guilty of using too many steps in an effort to create deception he doesn’t need to. Could recruit his hands more to clear contact.
Releases – Technically sound and remarkably effective. Immediately threatens the leveraged side of the corner and forces hesitation steps/turns, of which he can immediately take advantage. Has good short-area quicks and burst, mostly as a result of galloping strides that can close cushion quickly. Does not activate his hands to clear his shoulders as much as you’d like to see for a player of his size; is guilty of inviting/accepting contact and getting knocked off the red line without reason.
Tracking – His best trait. Locates the ball with astounding quickness and accuracy on all routes to all levels of the field. Tape is defined by hands catches going to the ground, adjusting backside, working to the apex, or of course, his characteristic “box-out” technique in the red zone. When in one-on-one situations, wins a gross number of “50/50” balls by simply locating the football first and working to an advantageous position. Ideal short-yardage target on quick breaking routes given ability to snag inaccurate balls through contact.
Catch Radius – A curious case. Leaping ability is general unknown, or at least underutilized, in that Arcega-Whiteside prefers to win on the ground by boxing out and attacking the ball late. Only elevates when he has to, but is effective in this regard. Elsewise, has a strong catch radius with great arm length, ability to snag and corrall balls at full extension, and the upper body flexibility to get to passes behind him. Not elite in the traditional sense, but strong overall.
RAC – Not a featured part of his game in Stanford, and not likely a strong aspect of his game in the NFL. Best tackle-breaking ability comes with strength and power to withstand tackle attempts from much smaller defensive backs. Has some good foot speed and explosiveness to make tacklers miss in space, but lacks breakaway speed and true elusive traits.
Physicality – A mixed bag, as defined situationally. Box-out ability in the end zone is unparalleled and unique — requires specific game-planning and preparation from opposing defensive backs before they match-up. Willing to initiate contact to create his own separation everywhere, but especially in the end zone. Through the contact window when releasing, however, Arcega-Whiteside doesn’t bring the same bulldog attitude, though he is still willing to exchange blows and fight power with power.
Blocking – One of the better blockers in this class. Most impressive as a downfield blocker; will fly down the field to help eliminate the final defenders on breakaway runs for other players. Looks for work on receptions for other teammates and likes to knock the socks off of unsuspecting defenders who don’t see him curling back from deep. Brings activity and strength to run-blocking responsibilities and will wash CBs to the sideline and SAFs out of the alley.
Functional Athleticism – Is a better athlete than he gives credit for, though he is by no means a stellar athlete — and he’s better on-field than he will likely test. Has good explosiveness in short areas given clean footwork and long strides. A bit tight-hipped which affects his ability to execute multi-break routes, but again, smart footwork mitigates this concern — and that’s not his game anyway. Does not have great long speed, which will limit explosive plays.
BEST TRAIT – Tracking
WORST TRAIT – RAC Ability
RED FLAGS – None
PLAYER COMPARISON – Marques Colston
A high-floor player with a clearly-defined role at the next level, JJ Arcega-Whiteside’s physicality, ball tracking ability, and knack for catching through contact will make him an instant red zone threat in the next level. For schemes that trust their quarterback/wide receiver connections on back-shoulder fades, Arcega-Whiteside’s value only increases, as his best traits translate downfield as well.
But with strong releases at the line of scrimmage and lightning-quick hands in the short areas, Arcega-Whiteside also offers the ability to move the sticks regularly by separating from press and presenting a big and immediate target. He won’t often house his short targets with breakaway speed or elusive traits, nor will he win on multi-break isolation routes, but he is an immediate starter in a valuable scoring role for an NFL offense.